Engaging the civil dead – citizens’ media and prisoners.
Engaging the civil dead - citizens' media and prisoners. If community media is at the forefront of new models of citizen participation then what better way to test this claim than by examining how community radio facilitates those groups most segregated from the general public? Prisoners, by their very nature, are by far one of society's most excluded populations. In this paper I draw on international examples of prisoners' radio and, more specifically, on an Australian case study (4ZzZ, Brisbane's Locked In), to investigate the practical implementation of citizens' media theory. Imprisonment involves much more than separation from society and loss of freedom of movement. Prisoners face severe deprivation of autonomy, privacy, voting rights and public voice. The denial of civil rights is out of step with a modern rehabilitative approach and alienates prisoners from further shaping the political community in which she or he will almost always return to live and work. This reinforces a sense of non-citizenship and a status of non-person. Direct participation is one of the fundamental elements of citizens' media, however incarceration limits the ability to physically participate in day to day media production. Legislation exasperates this situation so as to restrict prisoners' access to media organisations, even as interviewees. While some community radio stations have succeeded in accessing prisons to allow broadcasts directly from the institution more often than not prisoners' radio programs utilise less "hands-on" means to encourage participation in their programming.
OURMedia 6: Sustainable Futures: Roles and Challenges for Community, Alternative and Citizens’ Media in the 21st Century