‘Is it justice, or just us?’ Sourcing practices in radical and local media coverage of an Aboriginal death in police custody
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In 1993 in Brisbane, Australia, an 18-year-old Aboriginal man was arrested by police for disorderly conduct in an inner-city suburb. In the 21 minutes it took for the police to take the young offender to the local watch-house, he had died in the back of the police van. The untimely death of Daniel Yock became a trigger for the re-invigoration of the Aboriginal 'deaths in custody' movement, a political cause which had previously received significant public attention through mainstream and alternative news media coverage during a Royal Commission into the issue in the late-1980s. Since the Royal Commission finished its investigations in 1989, a further 51 Aboriginal people had died in police custudy - Yock was the 52nd in 1993. Altercations between local Indigenous groups and police followed Yock's death, political rallies were called and government reports produced. Rallying cries from the Aboriginal community at thousands-strong protests asked - 'Is it justice, or just us?' This paper examines the sources used in the news media coverage of the death of Daniel Yock to consider which voices are most prominent in the representation/s of the event itself, and the broader social movement surrounding deaths in custody in the early 1990s. This study extends the treatment of the source to consider the approaches of Indigenous and other alternative newspaper outlets alongside mainstream metropolitan and rural newspapers. This is significant because news sources are an under-used element in media analysis (Simpson 2012) and there has been particularly limited study of the ways alternative, community and/or Indigenous news media use sources to distinguish their practice. An unexpected component of this study has highlighted important nuances in our understanding of 'community', 'local' and alternative media which deserve further attention from media researchers.
Communication, Politics & Culture
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