Putting the citizen back into journalism
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Australian journalists working in mainstream media, like most of their international counterparts, are held in low esteem by their audiences. The environments in which they work increasingly are being defined by corporate agendas through public relations and networked news agencies. So it is perhaps not surprising that audiences are feeling increasingly alienated from dominant media institutions and their products. But it is not happening everywhere. Around four million listeners in an average week tune into community radio stations around Australia, primarily to hear local news and information. It has created arguably the highest per capita listenership globally for a national community broadcasting sector. This discussion draws from the first national qualitative audience study of the Australian community broadcasting sector and argues that community journalism is playing a crucial role in the democratic process by fostering citizen participation in public life. This suggests a critique of mainstream journalism practices and the central place of audience research in understanding the nature of the relationships and processes involved. I will suggest that the nature of community journalism aligns it more closely with the complex 'local talk' narratives at community level that play a crucial role in creating public consciousness. I will also suggest that in the light of global environmental and economic change, the need for journalism to re-connect with local audiences has never been more important. Introduction
Communication, Creativity and Global Citizenship: refereed proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference 2009
Copyright remains with the authors 2009. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australian License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/au/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.