Making Media Participatory

No 154, February 2015

Theme Editors: Christina Spurgeon and Maura Edmond

Buy this issue

Subscription and order form

Abstracts

 

                          Contents

Editorial

Sue Turnbull

ANZCA News

Diana Bossio

General Articles

Approaching media through the senses: Between experience and representation

Sarah Pink

Social games as partial platforms for identity co-creation Michele Willson

Are Australian teachers making the grade? A study of news coverage of NAPLAN
testing

Kathryn Shine

Situating a new voice in public relations: The application of positioning theory to
research and practice

Melanie James

The framing of the North Korean Six-Party Talks by Chinese and North Korean news agencies: Communist propaganda and national interests Won Yong Jang, Junhao Hong and Edward Frederick

 

Making Media Participatory

Making media participatory

Christina Spurgeon and Maura Edmond

The listening key: Unlocking the democratic potential of Indigenous participatory
media

Lisa Waller, Tanja Dreher and
Kerry McCallum

Listening to learn: Children’s experiences of participatory video for global education
in Australia and Timor-Leste
Kelly Royds

Disability media participation: Opportunities, obstacles and politics

Katie Ellis and Gerard Goggin

Public service media and social TV: Bridging or expanding gaps in participation? Jonathon Hutchinson
Producing participatory media: (Crowd)sourcing content in Britain/Life in a Day

Daniel Ashton

Children’s media making, but not sharing: The potential and limitations of
child-specific DIY media websites

Sara Grimes and Deborah A. Fields

Moving beyond evidence: Participatory online documentary practice within the
poetic framework of Cowbird

Bettina Frankham

Participatory media and ‘co-creative’ storytelling Christina Spurgeon

Book reviews

Edited by Sheree Gregory

 

                                                  Abstracts

Approaching media through the senses: Between experience and representation

Sarah Pink

Over recent years, there has been a growing interest in media and the senses. Yet there has to date been no sustained focus on the implications of existing approaches to the senses in terms of how we understand this relationship. In this article, I demonstrate how contemporary debates rooted in, but by no means exclusive to, anthropology that pivot around concepts of culture, representation and experience can inform the ways we might conceptualise the relationship between media and the senses. This article explores the tensions between and analytical consequences of, on the one hand, culturalist approaches to both the senses and to media and, on the other, phenomenological approaches. Such debates reveal the need to explore further how the relationality between representational and non-representational elements of media and content might be articulated.

Social games as partial platforms for identity co-creation

MIchele Willson

While social games such as Zynga’s FarmVille are often positioned as poor gaming experiences or as disguised financial and data-extraction processes (Bogost, 2010; Rossi, 2009), this article considers social games as part of a wider regime of social interaction and creative identity work. By definition, social games are located within extensive online social networks. Gameplay is thus situated within a number of overlapping contexts: the game, the broader social network and the material conditions of access, including different devices (mobile or desktop) and different locations. Moreover, given widely discussed differences between social game players and console- and PC-based game players (Wohn, 2011: 199), and game-play mechanics, these broader contexts further a reading of social gameplay as part of the diverse millieux of everyday life. The article argues that social games are spaces of creative expression, social dynamics and identity co-creation that cannot be understood without considering their broader contexts.

Are Australian teachers making the grade? A study of news coverage of NAPLAN testing

Kathryn Shine

The standardised testing of school children has been the subject of significant news media attention in recent years in many developed countries around the world. This article examines the reporting of annual National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests in three major Australian newspapers, with a particular focus on the portrayal of school teachers in the coverage. Overall, teachers were presented as strongly opposed to NAPLAN and the publication of test results, yet the newspapers themselves supported the tests as an important accountability measure. Teachers were depicted as trying to influence the testing system through teaching to the test and cheating. They were presented as generally inadequate as teachers, and were blamed for perceived failings in the educational system. These findings point to implications for teacher recruitment and retention, and for journalism education and training.

Situating a new voice in public relations: The application of positioning theory to research and practice

Melanie James

The role of speech acts in public relations practice, and how they are used by entities to intentionally position themselves and others, are examined through the application of positioning theory. Studies have found that successful positioning is achieved when there is congruence between the position taken or assigned, the speech acts used to enact it, and the storylines used as support. This triad is central to positioning theory, which is a social constructionist approach that defines a position as a cluster of rights and duties that limits the repertoire of possible social acts available to a person or person-like entity (such as an organisation). Examining public relations using positioning theory articulates practices relating to the power to position self and others, and can inform decisionmaking in communication program design. It moves away from organisation/management-centric theory that has dominated the field, and situates public relations firmly in the communication discipline.

The framing of the North Korean Six-Party Talks by Chinese and North Korean news agencies: Communist propaganda and national interests

wong Yong Jang, Junhao Hong and Edward Frederick

This article examines the subtle differences in news coverage of the Six-Party Talks by China’s Xinhua news agency and North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency from 2003 to 2007. The news agencies are the targets of propaganda from the various interests involved in the North Korean nuclear issue. The focus is on how the agencies framed the issue and whether the frames adopted by each reflected its country’s dominant ideology and national interests. It was found that the two news agencies adopted frames for the issue that were consistent with the dominant ideology in their respective nations.

Making media participatory

Christina Spurgeon and Maura Edmond

In 2002, Media International Australia published a special issue on Citizens’ Media (no. 103). It profiled new academic work that was reinvigorating research into alternative and community-interest media. Contributions to that issue explored new possibilities for community media policy and argued that critical participatory media provided a crucial link between media studies and broader agendas in political theory and democratic debate. In this issue, we refresh this debate with a collection of articles from new and established researchers that consider the use of critical perspectives in participatory digital culture, which has flourished with the growth of consumer markets for digital media technologies.

The listening key: Unlocking the democratic potential of Indigenous participatory media

Lisa Waller, Tanja Dreher and Kerry McCallum

This article explores how a listening approach might address the complex challenges of researching the relationship between Indigenous participation in media and mainstream policy-making processes. An overview of contemporary Indigenous media demonstrates how digital and social media have built on the vibrant and innovative Indigenous media tradition, and enabled a proliferation of new Indigenous voices. But do the powerful listen to Indigenous-produced media, and does this constitute meaningful participation in the political process? The article distinguishes between participation as involvement in the production and dissemination of media, and participation as political influence. It argues that both meanings are crucial for fully realising the potential of Indigenous participatory media, and contends that a listening approach might offer ways to research and unlock the democratic potential of Indigenous media participation.

Listening to learn: Children’s experiences of participatory video for global education in Australia and Timor-Leste

Kelly Royds

The process of creating participatory videos can enable children and young people to tell their own stories, reflect on cultural identities and build new social connections. Yet, while much research on participatory video focuses on voice and empowerment, little research has explored it as a tool for listening. This study compares children’s experiences of a global education program in Australia and Timor-Leste, to examine the role of critical literacy and listening in participatory video exchanges. Drawing on recent studies concerned with global citizenship education and the role of ‘listening’ in participatory media theory, this study identifies three challenges for the use of participatory video for global education: the need to provide spaces for critical literacy and listening; to consider the impact of meta-narratives of development on children; and to allow for intercultural difference and difficult conversations.

Disability media participation: Opportunities, obstacles and politics

Katie Ellis and Gerard Goggin

This article discusses participatory media from a critical disability perspective. It discusses the relative absence of explicit discussion and research on disability in the literatures on community, citizen and alternative media. By contrast, disability has emerged as an important element of participatory cultures and digital technologies. To explore disability participatory cultures, the article offers analysis of case studies, including disability blogs, ABC’s Ramp Up website and crowd-funding platforms (such as Kickstarter).

Public service media and social TV: Bridging or expanding gaps in participation?

Jonathon Hutchinson

The public service media (PSM) remit requires the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to provide for minorities while fostering national culture and the public sphere. Social media platforms and projects – specifically ‘social TV’ – have enabled greater participation in ABC content consumption and creation; they provide opportunities for social participation in collaborative cultural production. However it can be argued that, instead of deconstructing boundaries, social media platforms may in fact reconstruct participation barriers within PSM production processes. This article explores ABC co-creation between Twitter and the #7DaysLater television program, a narrative-based comedy program that engaged its audience through social media to produce its weekly program. The article demonstrates why the ABC should engage with social media platforms to collaboratively produce content, with #7DaysLater providing an innovative example, but suggests skilled cultural intermediaries with experience in community facilitation should carry out the process.

Producing participatory media: (Crowd)sourcing content in Britain/Life in a Day

Daniel Ashton

Created from footage contributed by members of the public to YouTube, the 2011 Life in a Day and 2012 Britain in a Day crowdsourced documentaries show participatory media-making projects on a global and national scale. Drawing comparisons with digital storytelling projects, this article examines efforts to structure and shape the contributions to the … in a Day crowdsourcing projects as set out in guidance and tutorial materials from the producers. Such guidance and advice are critically analysed to consider the different openings and opportunities made available by the production team as they (crowd)source content. Setting out the practices and possibilities for self-representation is a point of tension that this article explores through the comments thread to one of the production team’s guidance videos. This video presents a number of submission requirements, notably that contributors do not edit, and analysis of the responding comments shows how potential contributors critically challenge participation that they regard as the requesting and curating of content.

Children’s media making, but not sharing: The potential and limitations of child-specific DIY media websites

Sara Grimes and Deborah A. Fields

From drawing pictures to making home movies, children have long produced their own, do-it-yourself (DIY) media at the individual and local scales. Today, children’s DIY media creation increasingly takes place online, using digital technologies and tools that allow them to not only produce but also share their ideas with the world. This article relays findings from the first stages of a threeyear inquiry project into the opportunities and challenges associated with the rise of children’s online DIY media: an extensive media scan to identify websites and an in-depth content analysis of the terms and conditions, privacy policies and overall site designs. Among our key findings is the discovery that a narrow emphasis on making and a systematic disregard for the crucial role of sharing predominate the current children’s online DIY media environment. Furthermore, corporate ownership claims and a lack of features aimed at enabling user interaction often diminish the sites’ potential to advance children’s cultural rights and educational opportunities. We conclude that a disproportionate emphasis on making as a form of individualised learning has led to an undermining of crucial dimensions of children’s DIY media.

Moving beyond evidence: Participatory online documentary practice within the
poetic framework of Cowbird

Bettina Frankham

The growth of user contribution as a form of interaction within online documentary projects is causing a shift in the way screen-based documentary is conceived. Viewers become participants, taking on greater agency in forming the experience of the work as they engage by contributing personal responses to the exploration of a subject. Rather than being fixed works with definite beginnings and endings, these online collaborative documentaries operate as portals, encouraging communities to gather around themes, events or areas of interest. While the diversity of contributions promises rich conceptual renderings, a significant challenge lies in the question of how to create a coherent media entity out of aggregated content that may be contradictory, complex and constantly changing. The online storytelling platform Cowbird establishes a social media space that engages a range of aesthetic, structural and organisational techniques to facilitate the sequenciation of diverse sources into multi-vocal chronicles of experience. Cowbird initiatives, such as the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project, where individual accounts of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were published as a mosaic collection alongside a feature article about the reservation in National Geographic magazine, suggest alternative modes of exchange between old and new media. This article examines the visual, structural and interaction design of Cowbird to explore how this complex and changeful format works to stimulate poetic and affective webs of connection. It is my contention that the system of multilinear engagement employed on Cowbird enables an emergent approach to documentary that can accommodate a nuanced and shifting range of individual responses.

Participatory media and ‘co-creative’ storytelling

Christina Spurgeon

Distinguishing critical participatory media from other participatory media forms (for example user-generated content and social media) may be increasingly difficult to do, but it nonetheless remains an important task if media studies is to remain relevant to the continuing development of inclusive social political and media cultures. This was one of a number of the premises for a national Australian Research Council-funded study that set out to improve the visibility of critical participatory media, and to understand its use for facilitating media participation on a population-wide basis. The term ‘co-creative’ media was adopted to make this distinction and to describe an informal system of critical participatory media practice that is situated between major public, Indigenous and community arts, culture and media sectors. Although the co-creative media system is found to be a site of innovation and engine for social change, its value is still not fully understood. For this reason, this system continues to provide media and cultural studies scholars with valuable sites for researching the socio cultural transformations afforded by new media and communication technologies, as well as their limitations.

Book reviews in this issue

Anderson, John Nathan, Radio’s Digital Dilemma: Broadcasting in the Twenty-First Century

Babington, Bruce, The Sports Film: Games People Play

Bennett, Bruce, The Cinema of Michael Winterbottom: Borders, Intimacy, Terror

Bräuchler, Brigit, Cyberidentities at War: The Moluccan Conflict on the Internet

Brinkema, Eugenie, The Forms of the Affects

Brock, George, Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age

Brown, Elspeth H. and Phu, Thy (eds), Feeling Photography

Brynjolfsson, E. and McAfee, A., The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Clark, Lynn Schofield, The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age

Eskelinen, Markku, Cybertext Poetics: The Critical Landscape of New Media Literary Theory

Ess, Charles, Digital Media Ethics

Gunkel, David J. and Taylor, Paul A., Heidegger and the Media

Harris-Moore, Deborah, Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss and Beauty in Popular Culture

Hokowhitu, Brendan and Devadas, Vijay (eds), The Fourth Eye: Māori Media in Aotearoa New Zealand

Macnamara, Jim, The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices, 2nd edn

McBride, Kelly and Rosenstiel, Tom (eds), The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century

McKane, Anna, News Writing, 2nd edn

Naremore, James, An Invention Without a Future: Essays on Cinema

Poletti, Anna and Rak, Julie (eds), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online

Robie, David, Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific

Ruddock, Andy, Youth and Media

Ruoff, Jeffrey (ed.), Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals

Schulte, Stephanie Ricker, Cached: Decoding the Internet in Global Popular Culture

Tannen, Deborah and Trester, Anna Marie, Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media

Trandafoiu, Ruxandra, Diaspora Online: Identity Politics and Romanian Migrants

Turnbull, Sue, The TV Crime Drama

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Media Sport: Practice, Culture and Innovation

No 155, May 2015

Theme Editors: Brett Hutchins, Aneta Podkalicka and James Meese

Buy this issue

Subscription and order form

Abstracts

 

                                        Contents

Editorial

Sue Turnbull

ANZCA News

Diana Bossio

General Articles

From fringe to formalisation: An experiment in fostering interactive public service
media

Jonathon Hutchinson

Constructing the nation every night: Hegemonic formations in Today Tonight and
A Current Affair
Tanya Muscat

(Fan) scholars and superheroes: The role and status of comics fandom research in
Australian media history

Kevin Patrick

Transformative times: Australian journalists’ perceptions of changes in their work

Folker Hanusch

Facebook politics: Strategic network campaigning in the 2012 Taiwan presidential
election
Luc Chia-Shin Lin

 

Media Sport: Practice, Culture and Innovation

Media sport: Practice, culture and innovation

Brett Hutchins, James Meese and
Aneta Podkalicka

Sport and the transformation of Australian television

Ben Goldsmith

Smash and bash cricket? Affective technological innovations in The Big Bash Damion Sturm

Practices of media sport: Everyday experience and audience innovation

James Meese and Aneta Podkalicka

Reframing surfing: Physical culture in online spaces Rebecca Olive
Social media and niche sports: The netball ANZ Championship and Commonwealth Games on Twitter

Portia Vann, Darryl Woodford and Axel Bruns

Broadcast yourself: An exploratory study of sharing physical activity on social
networking sites

Jeroen Stragier, Tom Evens and Peter Mechant

Enhancing media sport consumption: Online gambling in European football

Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez and Christopher D. Tulloch

The curious case for media monopoly in technology-driven sports Jason Potts and Stuart Thomas
Afterword: Media sport – coming to a screen near and on you David Rowe

Book reviews

Edited by Sheree Gregory

 

                                                  Abstracts

From fringe to formalisation: An experiment in fostering interactive public service media

Jonathan Hutchinson

The role assumed by institutions that directly develop and support online communities has emerged as a crucial factor in the development of selfgovernance models for online communities engaging in collaborative practices. Commonly, online communities reject top-down governance models in favour of a meritocracy that positions users in authoritative positions because of their online performance. Scholarly research into online communities suggests that their governance models are horizontal, even where the community platforms are being developed or supported by commercial institutions. Questions of authority and power emerge when institutional, top-down governance models intersect with online community meritocracy in day-to-day communicative activities and while engaging in creative production. This article examines an experiment in fostering interactive public service media by users of the now-defunct ABC Pool through the case study of Ariadne. It tracks how early user-driven ideas
for creativity were aligned with the interests of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation through a process of community self-governance alongside cultural intermediation.

Constructing the nation every night: Hegemonic formations in Today Tonight and A Current Affair

Tanya Muscat

Political articulations of identities and the nation occur both through the demands of the commercial current affairs format and the journalistic use of textual elements. The tabloid format engages in processes of politicising divergent cultural identities through the appeal to mass Australia. Indeed, the particular feature of ethnic individuals in content provides a hegemonic formation through which the ‘nation’ can be articulated. This article draws upon the discursive hegemony of Laclau and Mouffe to deliberate how the journalistic use of production elements functions to negotiate both identity and the nation through the sub-genre of sexuality. It uses a text-based analysis to argue that the content structure demonstrates how information can be constructed incongruously across production elements. The journalistic use of textual elements in Channel Seven’s Today Tonight and Channel Nine’s A Current Affair is analysed to reveal complexities in structuring discourses of the nation and representing identities.

(Fan) scholars and superheroes: The role and status of comics fandom research in Australian media history

Kevin Patrick

Comic books, eagerly consumed by Australian readers and reviled with equal intensity by their detractors, became embroiled in post-war era debates about youth culture, censorship and Australian national identity. Yet there are few references to this remarkable publishing phenomenon in most histories of Australian print media, or in studies of Australian popular culture. This article demonstrates how the history of comic books in Australia has largely been recorded by fans and collectors who have undertaken the process of discovery, documentation and research – a task that, in any other field of print culture inquiry, would have been the preserve of academics. While acknowledging some of the problematic aspects of fan literature, the article argues that future research into the evolution of the comic-book medium within Australia must recognise, and engage with, this largely untapped body of ‘fan scholarship’ if we are to enrich our understanding of this neglected Australian media industry.

Transformative times: Australian journalists’ perceptions of changes in their work

Folker Hanusch

Numerous studies have pointed to the fact that journalism in most industrialised societies is undergoing a particularly intensive period of transformation. Yet, while many scholars have studied how news organisations are changing, comparatively few studies have inquired into how journalists themselves are experiencing the changes in their work brought on by the technological, economic and cultural transformations. Based on a representative study of Australian journalists, this article reports on their perceptions of changes in a variety of influences on and aspects of their work over the past five years. It finds that journalists say change has been most notable in audience interactions and technological innovation, while economic changes are somewhat less strong. Importantly, they are also very concerned about an increase in sensationalism and a drop in journalistic standards and the credibility of journalism. Results are also compared across different organisational contexts.

Facebook politics: Strategic network campaigning in the 2012 Taiwan presidential
election

Luc Chia-Shin Lin

The networked nature of social media allows users to link their pre-existing connections and develop new types of online relationships. This study aimed to examine the relationships between candidates’ camps and ‘netizens’ during the 2012 Taiwan presidential election. To benefit from the rapid growth of social networking, political candidates have used social media as an election campaign tool. However, the strategic approach of these candidates seems to contradict the networked nature of social media, especially in terms of friendship. Through in-depth interviews with campaign staff, journalists and scholars, this research found that a new concept – strategic network campaigning (SNC) – can be proposed. Combining ‘two-step flow’ communication, para-social relationships and network society theory, SNC explains how election camps mimic Facebook’s networked nature by placing staff in the network to influence netizens. Through SNC, campaign staff develop hubs that they can control, establish friend-like relationships with netizens, and influence perceptions of candidates.

Media sport: Practice, culture and innovation

Brett Hutchins, James Meese and Aneta Podkalicka

This article introduces the special issue on Media Sport: Practice, Culture and Innovation, and outlines the overall objectives and focus of the eight collected essays. The tripartite of ‘practice, culture and innovation’ encapsulates emerging themes in the study of media sport that connect with core (inter-)disciplinary concerns in and around communications and media studies: (1) media practice and what people do in relation to media; (2) the role of television, digital platforms, social networking, mobile media, apps and wearable media devices in the constitution of media cultures; and; (3) how both these issues relate to broadly articulated conceptions and processes of innovation. These articles add to a rich tradition of media sport research that stretches back four decades, as well as two previous special issues of Media International Australia published on sports media (in 1995 and 2011). They also continue the important process of renewing this tradition by the inclusion of new and established researchers based in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Spain, and analytical perspectives that draw selectively upon media studies, television studies, cultural studies, media anthropology, social psychology and economics.

Sport and the transformation of Australian television

Ben Goldsmith

This article examines the history of Australian broadcast television through the lens of sports programming. Ever since the introduction of the medium in Australia just before the 1956 Olympic Games, sports programming – both event coverage and sports-related content – has played a major role in defining television’s forms, concerns and technologies, as well as in developing audiences for services and channels. Looking at a series of pivotal moments in Australian television history – the 1956 Olympics, the coming of colour, aggregation in the late 1980s, the launch of subscription television in 1995 and commercial free-to-air multi-channelling – the article examines sports programming as a site of both competition and collaboration between networks and services. It also discusses the role of sports in shaping the schedules and profiles of the two Australian public service broadcasters, before concluding with a look at the possible future of sport and Australian broadcast television.

Smash and bash cricket? Affective technological innovations in The Big Bash

Damion Sturm

Focusing on the Australian KFC T20 Big Bash League (BBL), this article explores the innovative televisual technologies that represent T20 cricket as an action packed ‘smash and bash’ spectacle. An array of innovative technologies is deployed to aesthetically and affectively re-present the BBL. Cameras and microphones are embedded within the field of play, operate in highly mobile and fluid ways, and are framed in close proximity to the action – particularly when placed on the players themselves. The BBL provides intersecting affective layers for viewer engagement built upon tools for analysis, sites of commodification, visual renditions of pseudo-player perspectives and an emphasis on fast-paced entertainment. By constructing degrees of sensory invigoration and vicarious involvement for both casual and invested viewers, these innovative technologies mobilise ‘smash and bash’ cricket as an affective televisual spectacle.

Practices of media sport: Everyday experience and audience innovation

James Meese and Aneta Podkalicka

Media sport has a long history as a significant site of media innovation, and existing work in media and cultural studies has explored how media sport, technological innovation and regulatory frameworks interact. However, this work often focuses on how major actors such as broadcasting organisations, sporting bodies and telecommunications companies mediate sport. As a complementary strategy to this ‘top-down’ analysis, we approach media sport through the lens of practice, which allows us to understand everyday forms of engagement with, and consumption of, media sport in a clearer fashion. The article analyses existing policy discourses and social commentaries centred on the targeted ‘high-quality’ or ‘high-tech technological’ innovation, and argues that users of sports media are also motivated by series of cultural rewards and varied tradeoffs that do not map neatly onto industrial categories of quality or media consumption trends.

Reframing surfing: Physical culture in online spaces

Rebecca Olive

The social media app Instagram has become a popular everyday way to share visual representations of surfing culture and experiences. Providing an
alternative to mainstream surf media, images posted on Instagram by women who surf recreationally both disrupt and reinforce the existing sexualisation and differentiation of women in surf culture. Images themselves are not necessarily resistant, yet women are asserting themselves as a voice of surf cultural authority through processes of posting, sharing and engaging with images. While ‘big data’ research about Instagram is proving useful in terms of mapping spaces and movements, this article adopts an ethnographic approach to explore the notion that social media developments are changing possible ways of knowing and representing the world in which we live. Also considered is how lived experiences and social media shape each other in everyday lives and communities.

Social media and niche sports: The netball ANZ Championship and Commonwealth
Games on Twitter

Portia Vann, Darryl Woodford and Axel Bruns

This article analyses and compares Twitter activity for the niche sport of netball over the 2013 trans-Tasman ANZ Championship competition and the international Commonwealth Games event in 2014. Patterns within the Twitter data that were discovered through an analysis of the 2013 ANZ Championship season are considered in terms of the Commonwealth Games, and thus compared between a quasi-domestic and an international context. In particular, we highlight the extent to which niche sports such as netball attempt to capitalise on the opportunities provided by social media, and the challenges involved in coordinating event-specific hashtags, such as the #netball2014 hashtag promoted by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Broadcast yourself: An exploratory study of sharing physical activity on social
networking sites

Jeroen Stragier, Tom Evens and Peter Mechant

This article focuses on the practice of self-tracking of physical activity data and sharing it via social networking sites. The use of wearable technology devices and the latest smartphones with built-in GPS tracking technology – capturing the speed, distance and duration of physical activities such as running and cycling – is a striking example of the trend towards quantifying sports performances. The study explores the determinants and motivations of recreational athletes to share physical activity status updates on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Evidence is drawn from a large-scale survey of 400 users of Strava, a popular fitness app and online community. The results suggest that intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivations determine a person’s willingness to share physical activity via social networking sites.

Enhancing media sport consumption: Online gambling in European football

Hibai Lopez-Gonzalez and Christopher D. Tulloch

This article explores the intersections between sports bodies, media companies and gambling industries in European football. While betting, communication and sport have maintained an ongoing relationship for over two centuries, this article argues that the digitalisation of betting platforms has reconfigured the links between the traditional actors and created a new ‘online football betting ecology’. We elaborate on the intricate relationships of betting sites with top European football institutions via sponsorship, and on the role of the media, influencers and celebrities in the promotion of betting companies. An upbeat interpretation of this scenario stresses the enhancement of the act of consumption for football fans, transcending their traditional passive role as spectators. However, a more pessimistic vision points out that the economic dominance of the online gambling industry influences the way football competitions are run and endangers the integrity of the sport.

The curious case for media monopoly in technology-driven sports

Jason Potts and Stuart Thomas

This article examines the effect of technological change (innovation) on sports. We argue that innovation affects a sport through two pathways: sports equipment and sports media. We propose a simple economic model with positive feedback, which predicts that technology-enhanced sports will dominate the sports ecology. There is also the opposite phenomenon of technological overshooting that causes the elite end of a sport to develop much faster than the beginner’s end, damaging entry into the sport. We present this model through a case study on windsurfing, illustrating the role of sports media. A surprising result is that the case study suggests a welfare-maximising case for monopoly licensing of sports media in newly emerging sports, or sports with rapidly changing equipment technologies.

Afterword: Media sport – coming to a screen near and on you

David Rowe

The complex, often unpredictable and shifting media sport landscape demands a reinvigorated concern with consumption and innovation. But it also must embrace production, adaptation, resistance, reproduction, and the exercise of power – as well as pleasure, identity and strategic citizen mobilisation. This theme section exemplifies these tensions between change and continuity, and the purpose of this article is to provide further observation on the themes and issues that have emerged through the various articles in the issue.

Book reviews in this issue

Arp, Robert, Barkman, Adam and McRae, James, The Philosophy of Ang Lee
Burn, Andrew and Richards, Chris (eds), Children’s Games in the New Media Age: Childlore, Media and the Playground
Chander, Anupam, The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World Together in Commerce
Chattopadhyay, Rohitashya, Understanding India: Cultural Influences on Indian Television Commercials
Conboy, Martin and Steel, John, The Routledge Companion to British Media History
Cubitt, Sean and Thomas, Paul (eds), Relive: Media Art Histories
Davis, Aeron, Promotional Cultures
Flew, Terry, Global Creative Industries
G
eorgiou, Myria, Media and the City: Cosmopolitanism and Difference
Grosswiller, Paul (ed.), Explorations in Media Ecology (journal issue)
Holmlund, Chris (ed.), The Ultimate Stallone Reader: Sylvester Stallone as Star, Icon, Auteur
Howe, Alexander N. and Yarbrough, Wynn (eds), Kidding Around: The Child in Film and Media
Jaffe, Ira, Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action
Kang, Jaeho, Walter Benjamin and the Media: The Spectacle of Modernity
McCombs, Maxwell, Setting the Agenda, 2nd edn
Nash, Jennifer C., The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography
Patching, Roger and Hirst, Martin, Journalism Ethics: Arguments and Cases for the Twenty-First Century
Pick, Anat and Narraway, Guinevere (eds), Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human
Ricketson, Matthew, Telling True Stories: Navigating the Challenges of Writing Narrative Non-Fiction
Rodan, Debbie, Ellis, Katie and Lebeck, Pia, Disability, Obesity and Ageing: Popular Media Identifications
Thomas, Bronwen and Round, Julia, Real Lives, Celebrity Stories: Narratives of Ordinary and Extraordinary People Across Media
Tungate, Mark, Adland: A Global History of Advertising, 2nd edn
Ue, Tom and Cranfield, Jonathan (eds), Fan Phenomena: Sherlock Holmes
van Dijck, Jose, The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media
Volkmer, Ingrid, The Global PublicSphere: Public Communication inthe Age of Reflective Interdependence
Waisbord, Silvio (ed.), Media Sociology: A Reappraisal

 

 

 

 

  Situating Public Intellectuals

No 156, August 2015

Theme Editors: P. David Marshall and Cassandra Atherton

Buy this issue

Subscription and order form

Abstracts

 

                          Contents

Editorial

Sue Turnbull

ANZCA News

Diana Bossio

General Articles

A conceptual matrix of journalism as research two decades after ‘Media Wars’

Mark Pearson, Roger Patching and Lisa Wilshere-Cumming

Friend or foe? Regional newspapers and the power of Facebook Kristy Hess and Kathryn Bowd

Remaking Guangzhou: Geo-identity and place-making on Sina Weibo

Wilfred Yang Wang

Gay lifestyle publications: Drawing the crowds to grow the bar scene

Bill Calder

Understanding screen franchising Albert Moran
Revisiting the scenario of representation of politics Susan Smith Reilly

 

Situating Public Intellectuals

Situating public intellectuals

P. David Marshall and Cassandra Atherton

No, Prime Minister: Public intellectuals and power in Israel

Michael Keren

Public intellectuals, academic violence and the threat of political purity Henry A. Giroux

‘Very inflated rhetoric, polysyllables and so on’: The public intellectual and jargon in the academy

Cassandra Atherton

Public intellectuals: La lutte continue? John Hartley
Understanding the emerging contemporary public intellectual: Online academic persona and The Conversation

P. David Marshall

Reshaping public intellectual life: Frank Moorhouse and his milieu

Catharine Lumby

Will the real Waleed Aly please stand up? Media, celebrity and the making of an
Australian public intellectual

Glenn D’Cruz and Niranjala Weerakkody

Reviews

Edited by Sheree Gregory

 

                                                  Abstracts

A conceptual matrix of journalism as research two decades after ‘Media Wars’

Mark Pearson, Roger Patching and Lisa Wilshere-Cumming

It is 20 years since John Hartley (1995) positioned journalism as the subject of academic research rather than as a research method in its own right. In 1999, Media International Australia devoted a themed edition to the debate over journalism in the academy (‘Media Wars’), which prompted further scholarly discourse over the role and location of journalism as a field of study. This article reassesses that debate in the light of the acknowledgement of journalism studies and journalism creative works in the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) system, the use of journalism methods as a research methodology and the development of conceptual paradigms for journalism as research. The article surveys the relationship between journalism and research over the ensuing two decades and proposes a conceptual matrix of the journalism–research nexus.

Friend or foe? Regional newspapers and the power of Facebook

Kristy Hess and Kathryn Bowd

This article examines how some regional newspapers in Australia are engaging with the social media juggernaut Facebook, and looks at the effects of this on their relationships with audiences in a digital world. We highlight how terms such as ‘friend’ and ‘community’ mask complex power struggles taking place across these two media platforms. On the one hand, Facebook can facilitate public conversation and widen the options for journalists to access information; on the other, it has become a competitor as news outlets struggle to find a business model for online spaces. We suggest that newspapers and journalists are facing challenges in navigating the complexities of a platform that crosses public/private domains at a time when the nature of ‘private’ and ‘public’ is being contested. The article adopts a ‘pooled case comparison’ approach, drawing on data from two separate Australian studies that examine regional newspapers in a digital landscape. The research draws on interviews with journalists and editors in Australia across three states, and on focus groups and interviews with newspaper readers in Victoria.

Remaking Guangzhou: Geo-identity and place-making on Sina Weibo

Wilfred Yang Wang

This study uses the concept of ‘place-making’ to consider the formation of geo-identity on Sina Weibo, one of the most popular microblogging services in China. Besides articulating state–public confrontation during major social controversies, Weibo has been used to recollect and re-narrate the memories of a city, such as Guangzhou, where dramatic social and cultural changes took place during the economic reform era. This study aims to explore how Weibo sustains political engagement through maintaining Guangzhou people’s sense of belonging to their city. By collecting data from a Weibo group over a period of twelve months, I argue that Weibo politics not only takes place during a contentious events, but is sustained within the realm of everyday life. This study has the potential to contribute to the limited knowledge of Weibo use during non-contentious period in China, hence broadening the notion of popular polity in the age of social media.

Gay lifestyle publications: Drawing the crowds to grow the bar scene

Bill Calder

This article argues that the rapid expansion of Australia’s gay bar scene from the late 1970s was aided by the parallel development of a new media genre: the gay lifestyle publication. The reason for this was a powerful synergy that existed between the publicity needs of the bar scene and the editorial, distribution and revenue needs of the lifestyle magazines. Conversely, the lack of such a synergy between the internet and the bars today can be seen as contributing to the recent decline of gay bars in Australian cities.

Understanding screen franchising

Albert Moran

Handbooks about the business practice of franchising do not seem to consider whether the practice occurs in television and other media industries. This lack of regard is replicated by media and communication scholars who fail to consider how this kind of media licensing works, even though the term ‘franchising’ is frequently adopted. To place the topic in a wider realm of critical inquiry, this article analyses a set of distinct economic, legal and cultural parameters that have to do with media intertext franchising on the one hand and television format franchising on the other. It finds that the two sets of practices operate under different regimes of legal protection, one concentrating on trade mark law and the other focusing on copyright law. In turn, this raises a question concerning the legal protectability of television program formats such as Ugly Betty under a legal shield associated with the media intertext rather than the television format. The presence of dramatic character would seem to be crucial to facilitating the building of a brand associated with a fictional character’s aura or image.

Revisiting the scenario of representation of politics

Susan Smith Reilly

In the first democratic election after 25 years of military rule, Brazilians elected a young unknown politician who was impeached for corruption before his first term of office was over. Based on Stuart Hall’s concept of scenarios of representation in media that play a constitutive role in social life, Venicio de Lima, a professor of political science and communication at the University of Brasilia, proposed that Collor’s campaign was built around the dramatic narratives in popular telenovelas in which young heroes successfully challenged authority. Lima contends that scenarios of representation of politics are effective in media-centric consumer cultures that rely on advertising for both products and politics. In this article, New York Times journalist Frank Rich demonstrates that the themes of popular drama can provide counter-hegemonic readings of political events, called for by Lima as part of the democratic process. Rich, a former theatre critic, used his knowledge of popular culture to critique the US war in Iraq.

Situating public intellectuals

P. David Marshall and Cassandra Atherton

The concept of the public intellectual has always been a somewhat contestedterm. This article serves as both an introduction to the debates around what it constitutes and an entry point into how the new media environment is producinga different configuration of the public intellectual. Through key thinkers who have addressed the idea of the public intellectual internationally and those who havefocused on the Australian context, this essay positions the arguments made bythe authors in this special issue. Via a short case-study of TED, the conferenceand online idea-spreading phenomenon, it argues that the contemporary moment is producing and privileging a different constellation of experts as celebrities that match the exigencies of online attention economy. A shifted conception of the public intellectual is beginning to take shape that is differently constituted, used and situated, and this article helps to define the parameters for further discussion of these transformations.

No, Prime Minister: Public intellectuals and power in Israel

Michael Keren

While intellectuals engaged in public advocacy long before the term ‘public intellectual’ was coined, it was largely Emile Zola’s cry ‘J’accuse’ during the Dreyfus Affair in late nineteenth-century France that gave rise to the expectation that intellectuals ‘speak truth to power’. Yet, while many twentieth- and twentyfirst- century intellectuals have spoken to power either as critics or as ‘fellow travellers’, their public engagement has always been accompanied by the question of legitimacy: why should their opinions be valued more than those of coachmen, shoemakers or, for that matter, Facebook users? The intention in this article is to partly address this question by investigating the strategies of legitimisation and validation used by public intellectuals in their political argumentation. Focusing on one case study – the long, burdened and erratic relationship between Israel’s writers and scholars, and the country’s prime ministers – I propose three main sources of validation used by public intellectuals: their preoccupation with ideas, their historical knowledge and their reputation. I illustrate these three modes of validation by analysing open letters written by theologian Martin Buber, philosopher Nathan Rotenstreich, historian Jacob Talmon, novelists Amos Oz and David Grossman, and others to Israel’s prime ministers from 1948 to the present, showing how the three modes evolved in response to the respective prime ministers’ attitudes towards the political involvement of intellectuals and how they were combined by public intellectuals in need of effective strategies to legitimise their stand in given political situations. I then try to assess the effectiveness of such strategies and conclude by noting the challenges posed to public intellectuals today by new players in the market of ideas, especially bloggers using new sources of validation, such as their closeness to the grassroots, in their political argumentation.

Public intellectuals, academic violence and the threat of political purity

Henry A. Giroux

Ideological fundamentalism and political purity appear to have a strong grip on American and Canadian societies. The time has come to develop a political language in which civic values and social responsibility – and the institutions, tactics and long-term commitments that support them – become central to invigorating and fortifying a new era of civic engagement, a renewed sense of social agency and an impassioned international social movement with the vision, organisation and set of strategies capable of challenging the neoliberal nightmare that now haunts the globe and empties out the meaning of politics and democracy.

‘Very inflated rhetoric, polysyllables and so on’: The public intellectual and jargon in the academy

Cassandra Atherton

The public intellectual, by their very definition, aims to reach a large sector of the public or publics. This requires proficiency, or at least the capacity to communicate in a variety of forms. As a large proportion of the public, to which the public intellectual appeals, is an online or cyber public, the importance of blogs in a computer-literate public cannot be under-estimated. The immediacy of the blog and the way in which an online presence facilitates immediate communication between the public and the public intellectual through the posting of comments online allow for a broad recognition of the intellectual in the public arena. My arguments will hinge on my interviews with contemporary American public
intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Todd Gitlin, Camille Paglia and Stephen Greenblatt) and their views on communication in a society experiencing a decline in the publication of print media.

Public intellectuals: La lutte continue?

John Hartley

This article outlines three versions of the intellectual: past, present and future. First, it describes an archetypal ‘Parisian’ myth; next, the dissolute present or ‘public intellectual’; finally, a future vision based on the new concept of ‘knowledge clubs’. The article traces how ‘the intellectual’ has changed over time, and considers the consequences of hanging on to the past, especially by adding the word ‘public’ to ‘intellectual’. While retaining the appearance of a character long dead, this phantasm may blind contemporary analysis as to the direction in which to look for ‘public thought’ in the future. The article argues that the concept needs to be rethought according the approach of ‘cultural science’, where knowledge-agency belongs to culture-made groups rather than individuals.

Understanding the emerging contemporary public intellectual: Online academic
persona and
The Conversation

P. David Marshall

At its core, the power of the public intellectual is the capacity to make ideas move through a culture. This article looks at what kind of academic persona – that is, what kind of public self whose original status comes from intellectual work and thinking – navigates effectively through online culture and communicates ideas in the contemporary moment. Part of the article reports on a research project that has studied academic personas online and explores what can be described as ‘registers of online performance’ that they inhabit through their online selves. The research reveals that public intellectuals have to interpret effectively that online culture privileges what is identified as ‘presentational media’: the individual as opposed to the media is the channel through which information moves and is exchanged online, and it is essentially a presentation of the self that has to be integrated into the ideas and messages. From this initial analysis/categorisation of academic persona online, the article investigates the online magazine The Conversation, which blends journalism with academic expertise in its production of news stories. The article concludes with some of the key elements that are part of the power of the public intellectual online.

Reshaping public intellectual life: Frank Moorhouse and his milieu

Catharine Lumby

This article uses Frank Moorhouse as a study of the formation of a public intellectual in the 1960s and 1970s. Moorhouse was a key figure in the Sydney Push, a loose Libertarian-anarchist network of artists, writers, intellectuals and party people who rejected the dominant moral values of the 1950s and 1960s. A journalist, Moorhouse later became a well-known fiction writer who was part of a similarly bohemian and activist milieu centred in Sydney’s Balmain. Taking Frank Moorhouse as a case study, I will argue that there is something particular about the way public intellectuals have historically been formed and given voice in Australian life, which is characterised by a permeability between art and writing practices and between academic and activist milieux.

Will the real Waleed Aly please stand up? Media, celebrity and the making of an Australian public intellectual

Glenn D’Cruz and Niranjala Weerakkody

Waleed Aly is arguably the most visible and vocal Australian public intellectual from a non-Anglo-Australian background. The ubiquitous Aly is a veritable Renaissance man – he is a television presenter, radio host, academic and rock musician. He is also a former lawyer, and served on the executive committee of the Islamic Council of Victoria. In short, he is the ‘go-to’ Muslim for commentary on a wide range of political and civic affairs. This article argues that Aly’s media profile and celebrity status have as much to do with an Australian cultural imaginary that posits ‘whiteness’ as an uncontestable normative value as it does with Aly’s undoubted skills as a journalist, academic and cultural commentator. It examines Aly’s career with reference to Ghassan Hage’s concept of ‘whiteness’ as a form of aspirational cultural capital and various theories of persona and performativity. For Hage, ‘whiteness’ is not a literal skin colour; rather, it consists of elements that can be adopted by individuals and groups (such as nationally valued looks, accents, tastes, cultural preferences and modes of behaviour). While entry to what Hage calls Australia’s ‘national aristocracy’ is generally predicated on possessing the correct skin tone, it is theoretically possible for dark-skinned people such as Waleed Aly to enter the field of national belonging and partake in public discourse about a range of topical issues. More specifically, the article substantiates its claims about Aly’s status as a member of Australia’s cultural aristocracy through a comparative discourse and performance analysis of his presentation of ‘self’ in four distinctive media contexts: Channel 10’s The Project, the ABC RN Drive program, ABC TV’s Q&A and the SBS comedy-talk show Salaam Café, which looked at the ‘funny side of life as an Australian Muslim’ and showcased other multi-talented Muslim professionals of both genders.

Book reviews in this issue

Kelly, Gabrielle and Robson, Cheryl (eds), Celluloid Ceiling: Women Film Directors Breaking Through
Kroker, Arthur, Exits to the Posthuman Future
Pearson, Mark and Polden, Mark, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law: A Handbook for Communicators in a Digital World, 5th ed.
Webber, Julie, The Cultural Set Up of Comedy: Affective Politics in the United States Post 9/11
Whissel, Kristen, Spectacular Digital Effects: CGI and Contemporary Cinema

 

 

  Australian Media History

No 157, November 2015

Theme Editors: Murray Goot and Bridget Griffen-Foley; Tom O'Regan and Huw Walmsley-Evenas


Buy this issue

Subscription and order form

Abstracts

 

                          Contents

Editorial

Sue Turnbull

ANZCA News

Donald Matheson

 

50 Years of The Australian

Fifty years of The Australian

Murray Goot

The proprietorial model Mark Day

The paper and the nation: 50 years of The Australian

Paul Kelly

The Australian in Canberra, 1964–67

Patricia Clarke

A grand adventure (in which the author encountered Rupert Murdoch’s ideas
about what women want)
Julie Rigg
The revolution in political cartoons and the early Australian Robert Phiddian
The Australian’s Media supplement: A lapdog, a watchdog, an attack dog
or all of the above?
Andrew Dodd and Matthew Ricketson
Sending a message: The Australian’s reporting of media policy Sally Young

 

Media Histories

Media histories

Tom O'Regan and Huw Walmsley-Evans

From data to news: Weather reporting, telegraphy and the press in
colonial Australia

Denis Cryle

The mediated Asian-Australian food identity: From Charmaine Solomon to
MasterChef Australia
Frances Bonner

The rise of the spin doctor: From personal briefings to news management

David McKnight

Charles Brunsdon Fletcher, the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, Asia and the
Pacific
Margaret Van Heekeren
The Nimble Savage: Press constructions of Pacific Islander swimmers in early
twentieth-century Australia

Gary Osmond

Affect, upset and the self: Memories of television in Australia

Sue Turnbull and Stephanie Hanson

Too many grooves? Radio’s reconnection with youth in the 2000s

Chris K. Wilson

Reviews

Edited by Sheree Gregory

 

                                                  Abstracts

50 YEARS OF THE AUSTRALIAN

Fifty years of The Australian

This introduction to the collection of articles published in MIA to mark 50 years of The Australian offers a critical assessment of the literature on The Australian. It covers the miracle of the paper’s conception, its struggle to survive amid widespread doubts that it could, and the conditions that enabled it to flourish at various times. It discusses the paper’s original vision as well as its early reception, some of the market research and the changing profile of its readers. It examines arguments and evidence about The Australian’s coverage of elections, notes the contention over its positions on other issues and lists a large number of studies that have explored various aspects of its journalism. It also situates The Australian in relation to other parts of News Limited and scrutinises claims about the paper’s influence on other publishers and other media. Finally, it offers an outline of the articles in this theme section – four from industry and three from the academy.

The proprietorial model

Mark Day

Mark Day puts the case for the proprietorial model of newspaper publishing, starting with a very simple proposition: that without Rupert Murdoch as an
old-fashioned proprietor, we wouldn’t have had The Australian 50 years ago and we wouldn’t have it today.

The paper and the nation: 50 years of The Australian

Paul Kelly

The launch of The Australian in 1964 now appears prescient: it coincided with and contributed to the rise in national political consciousness inaugurated in the 1960s that has continued ever since. Integral to this process has been a far more powerful sense of the nation and a weakening in state consciousness. History suggests that the culture and the technology were ready for a national newspaper. This article examines several critical political events or themes, how The Australian saw them and the extent to which it shaped or failed to shape the nation’s mood. This involves an assessment of how both the nation and the paper changed over half a century.

The Australian in Canberra, 1964–67

Patricia Clarke

This article discusses the impact of The Australian on Canberra from its first issue on 15 July 1964 to the move to Sydney on 18 March 1967. It covers the acquisition of The Territorian; the change of ownership of Federal Capital Press to the Fairfax organisation; the battle with the Canberra Times for dominance in the local market; the impact of the influx of journalists on a previously static news scene; their impact on Press Gallery reporting; and the impact of more penetrating reporting on the public service. These themes are developed against
the background of a city enjoying a burst of development. The article draws on the author’s experience as a journalist with the ABC in the Press Gallery in Canberra in the 1960s, as a contributor to The Australian, as a writer/editor for Maxwell Newton, as a citizen and as honorary secretary for the Canberra Day Celebrations 1964.

A grand adventure (in which the author encountered Rupert Murdoch’s ideas about what women want)

Julie Rigg

When The Australian began publication out of Canberra in 1964, I was one of the youngest journalists on staff. I worked for editors Maxwell Newton, Adrian Deamer and Walter Kommer. I covered education and immigration, and wrote a fortnightly column on social issues: conscription, the Vietnam War, civil liberties, racism, policing, and the White Australia policy. I also wrote about women, often: about marriage, sex education, abortion, unequal pay, childbirth, childcare and all the issues attitudes and structures that constrained us. In this article, I tell
some stories from those years, and reflect on the editorial attitudes I encountered.

The revolution in political cartoons and the early Australian

Robert Phiddian

In the 1960s, Australian political cartoons were transformed by three events: the arrival of Les Tanner at The Bulletin after Donald Horne was put in charge by Frank Packer; the radically new style and content of Bruce Petty’s cartoons during The Australian’s first decade; and the later development of a stable of cartoonists at The Age. In this period, the now common assumption that cartoonists are ‘always left-wing’ came into being – an obvious irony given the career arcs of proprietors like Packer and Rupert Murdoch. This article focuses on the middle part of this narrative, the impact of Bruce Petty’s visually and politically radical cartooning for The Australian from day one. In what ways does Petty’s work incarnate the anti-establishment ‘ethos’ of the young newspaper? What were the visual and political consequences for other broadsheets? How did this ‘left-wing’ impetus end at The Australian and live on in other papers?

The Australian’s Media supplement: A lapdog, a watchdog, an attack dog or all of the above?

Andrew Dodd and Matthew Ricketson

The modern news media comprise powerful institutions that require the kind of scrutiny they direct towards other influential institutions. The 50th anniversary of The Australian offers a timely opportunity to examine how fairly and accurately the national daily newspaper has reported on its parent company’s strengths and weaknesses, and those of its commercial rivals, as well as covering overall trends in the media industry. The article argues that when The Australian’s Media section began in 1999, it substantially expanded for readers the available
range of news and views about the media. However, the section never reached its advertising revenue targets and in recent years has lost much of the revenue it once had. Over the past decade, the section has become increasingly narrowminded in the range of its coverage, tone and approach.

Sending a message: The Australian’s reporting of media policy

Sally Young

As Australia’s only national general newspaper, with an elite ‘political class’ audience, The Australian has been at the forefront of newspaper proprietors’ attempts to influence media policy. This article analyses The Australian’s reporting of two key media policy proposals affecting newspapers: the establishment of the Australian Press Council in 1975–76 and the Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation (the Finkelstein inquiry) in 2012–13. While the events were 36 years apart, the paper’s stance and rhetoric were remarkably similar. However, its approach to journalism and to providing information to its audience changed in several important respects.

MEDIA HISTORIES

Media histories

Tom O'Regan and Huw Walmsley-Evans

If the first section of this Australian Media History issue of MIA focused on the first 50 years of The Australian newspaper, this second section, Media Histories, provides a general selection of articles covering different aspects of Australian media history. Designed to represent the several contemporary trends in Australian media history scholarship, this state-of-the-discipline collection covers a range of media and time periods. It shows how capacious and heterogeneous media history can be, and how indispensible – whether for the examination of media institutions and their regulation, media’s intersections with politics and memories, media coverage of racial and ethnic differences across sport, food and national policy, or media’s taking up of science with weather forecasting.

From data to news: Weather reporting, telegraphy and the press in colonial Australia

Denis Cryle

This article examines the role of telegraphy and newspapers in the provision of weather news during the late nineteenth century. In order to trace the transformation from data to news, the discussion begins by documenting the formation of both technical and professional meteorological networks, at a time when government observers across the colonies began to compile joint reports for an expanding reading public. In this respect, its focus will be primarily on the use of the inter-colonial telegraph, and upon two influential observers operating in different Australian colonies: Charles Todd in South Australia and Clement Wragge in Queensland. In order to explore the development of colonial weather networks in the age of the telegraph, the article examines the protracted press and professional controversy that arose between these two media personalities, and maps the transformation of weather telegrams into news by late colonial newspapers.

The mediated Asian-Australian food identity: From Charmaine Solomon to MasterChef Australia

Frances Bonner

This article considers the significance of food competitions, not just in helping ex-contestants to achieve careers in various food media sites, but also the consequences of this, together with televised food programs generally, in making Australian television more fully represent a multicultural nation, most specifically its Asian-Australian citizens. In 1964, Charmaine Solomon came second in a Woman’s Day recipe competition. This, combined with her earlier training as a journalist in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, led the magazine’s food editor, Margaret Fulton, to offer her a job. This began her long career as the leading Australian writer on Asian food. More recently, television and shows like MasterChef Australia have replaced magazine competitions in providing a breakthrough into a mediated career in the food industry. Again it was as second place-getter in the very first series of MasterChef that Poh Ling Yeow achieved her break and found her place. Television requires and bestows celebrity, and Poh provides a valuable counterpoint to Solomon here. Several other Asian-Australian contestants have similarly flourished after exposure on the program, like second series winner Adam Liaw. It has become evident that cooking competitions have become one
of the principal sites in prime-time Australian television for Asian faces to be seen as a matter of course. While scholars of, and commentators on, Australian multiculturalism are rightly scathing about popular statements claiming a better Australian food culture as an index of the success of post-war migration policies, it appears that Australian television and other media continue to find this conjunction fruitful.

The rise of the spin doctor: From personal briefings to news management

David McKnight

This article contextualises the rise of political spin in Australian politics and discusses its meaning and implications. It examines the largely unmediated relationship between political leaders and journalists that existed until the 1970s. It locates the foundational period in the growth of professionalised public relations in the Fraser and Hawke governments and suggests that an assertive new style of journalism played a role in its birth. It debates some of the literature on spin, and suggests that spin is a permanent fixture and that journalists need to devise creative responses to it rather than simply denounce it.

Charles Brunsdon Fletcher, the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, Asia and the Pacific

Margaret Van Heekeren

This article contextualises the rise of political spin in Australian politics and discusses its meaning and implications. It examines the largely unmediated relationship between political leaders and journalists that existed until the 1970s. It locates the foundational period in the growth of professionalised public relations in the Fraser and Hawke governments and suggests that an assertive new style of journalism played a role in its birth. It debates some of the literature on spin, and suggests that spin is a permanent fixture and that journalists need to devise creative responses to it rather than simply denounce it.

The Nimble Savage: Press constructions of Pacific Islander swimmers in early twentieth-century Australia

Gary Osmond

In the decades around Australian Federation in 1901, a number of Pacific Islanders gained prominence in aquatic sport on the beaches and in the pools of
Sydney in particular. Two swimmers, brothers Alick and Edward (Ted) Wickham from the Solomon Islands, were especially prominent. This article examines racial constructions of these athletes by the Australian press. Given the existence of well-entrenched negative racial stereotypes about Pacific Islanders, and legislative manifestations of the White Australia policy that sought to deport and exclude Islanders, racially negative portrayals of the Wickhams might have been expected in the press. Instead, newspapers constructed these men in largely positive terms, idealising the supposedly natural ability of Islanders in water and reifying an aquatic Nimble Savage stereotype. While largely contained to a few individuals, this nonetheless powerful press construction presented an alternative perspective to the prevailing negative stereotypes.

Affect, upset and the self: Memories of television in Australia

Sue Turnbull and Stephanie Hanson

In a recent survey inviting people to outline some of their memories of television and its place in their lives, one of the questions asked was: ‘Can you explain why these particular television memories have stayed with you?’ While the responses to this question were complex and individual, some common themes emerged. These included questions of affect; experiences that were ‘beyond the norm’; and moments of self-identification. While the younger age group (15–45 years) slightly favoured the ‘self-identification’ and ‘affect’ categories, for the 46+ combined groups, the major category was the ‘beyond the norm’. The second-most cited factor, given by approximately 50 per cent of the respondents, was that a television memory is made when an event on television somehow becomes intertwined with the life of the individual. In many instances, the event was recalled as a formative or life-changing occurrence. While it is difficult to draw too many conclusions from the data in relation to gender, given that there were more female participants than male, when the data were recast to show percentages within each gender group, it was interesting to note that the male participants rated ‘affect’ most highly while females rated ‘self-identification’ as the most significant factor in the making of a television memory. This article explores these findings in more detail and examines the implications of these data for thinking about the relationship between the medium of television, television audiences and the formation of memories.

Too many grooves? Radio’s reconnection with youth in the 2000s

Chris K. Wilson

In the mid-2000s, the radio landscape of all Australian mainland capital cities included a station in each of the national, community and commercial broadcasting sectors that either purported to service youth, or was widely recognised as doing so. Given competition for audiences and resources, power asymmetries and a lack of clear delineation between the sectors, tensions between operators have been a feature of this multi-sector youth radio landscape. This article examines a case in which competition for young listeners between the Nova FM commercial service and Perth youth community broadcaster Groove FM was pursued through the regulatory system. In addition to the demise of Groove, the conflict generated a broader challenge to public investment in youth radio that has contributed to the continuing absence of a youth community station from the Perth radio landscape, but has yet to be felt in other markets.

Book reviews in this issue

Fahlenbrach, Kathrin, Sivertsen, Erling, Werenskjold, Rolf (eds), Media and Revolt: Strategies and Performances from the 1960s to the Present

Glynn, Stephen, Quadrophenia

Gitelman, Lisa, Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents

Griffen-Foley, Bridget, Sir Frank Packer: A Biography (2nd ed.)

Kahn, Paul W., Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation

May, Josephine, Reel Schools: Schooling and the Nation in Australian Cinema

McDonnell, Andrea M., Reading Celebrity Gossip Magazines

O’Day, Andrew (ed.), Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour – A Critical Celebration of the Matt Smith and Steven Moffat Era

Poerksen, Bernhard and Detel, Hanne,The Unleashed Scandal: The End of Control in the Digital Age

 

 

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