Beyond the mainstream: journalism, community and democracy
Around four million listeners in an average week tune into community radio stations around Australia, primarily to hear local news and information - evidence of a failure by mainstream journalism to meet their diverse needs. This discussion draws from a landmark national qualitative audience study of the Australian community broadcasting sector to explore the role being played by community journalism. I will argue that journalism at the level of the local 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.
Comparative Journalism Studies 2008