Spanish Language Media in Australia: Understanding the Rise and Evolution of Australia's Spanish Language Newspapers

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Bennett, James
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Burrows, Elizabeth
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As a nation with a strong history of migration, Australia has become a rich multicultural society with an extensive history of migrant and Indigenous media. For migrant communities, community ethnic newspapers created ‘by’ the community ‘for’ the community, are powerful, yet overlooked cultural, informational, and linguistic resources. Community ethnic media are a vital part of multicultural Australia as they assist individuals to find a sense of community, belonging, and place. Media are a crucial space where migrant communities can debate and address issues and events that mainstream media ignores and are important mediums where communities understand themselves and one another. With an infinite number of community ethnic media platforms available from print to broadcast to digital, matters of access, representation and having their audiences’ voice heard and recognised has become more important than ever. Although research examining community ethnic newspapers in Australia has flourished since Gilson and Zubrzycki’s pioneering work on the history and role of Australia’s ethnic media in the 1960s, specific research as to why and how Spanish language newspapers were produced and consumed in multicultural Australia has remained unexamined. In particular, we lack knowledge concerning how Spanish language newspapers are an alternative space in which this invisible heterogeneous migrant community, not only has a voice and space to publish news and information but where it also maintains and promotes the Spanish language and culture. This thesis addresses these knowledge gaps for Australia and elsewhere by examining and discussing the following three themes. First, the emergence and development of print and online Spanish language newspapers in Australia. Second, how the production and consumption of Australia’s Spanish language newspapers influence language, culture, and identity in relation to the past, present, and future. Third, how Spanish language newspapers represent an imagined community, and contribute to a sense of place and belonging amongst community ethnic media producers and consumers. This thesis analyses the results of a three-step study, drawing upon data derived from mixed-methods research. First, a community-based survey of first and second generation Hispanics from Australia’s three largest capital cities — Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney — examined the reasons for print and online Spanish language newspaper production and consumption. Second, semi-structured interviews with ethnic press professionals examined the emergence and evolution of the Spanish language press and the significance of the publication-audience relationship. Third, a textual analysis of print and online Spanish language newspapers verified and triangulated data from the community survey and interviews. The analysis of the survey and interview data in this thesis provides insights into whether and how Spanish language newspapers have influenced Australia’s socio-cultural and linguistic landscape. This thesis illuminates our understanding by demonstrating how Spanish language newspapers instil a sense of solidarity via a shared language, experience, and space, not only within the Hispanic sphere in Australia but also within a wider global sphere. The principal finding of this thesis is that despite Australia’s monolingual landscape, the Spanish language press continues to satisfy and maintain the linguistic, informational, and cultural needs of first and subsequent generations of Hispanics. This thesis identifies four key elements in Australia’s Spanish language press. First, a need and market for Spanish language newspapers exists, as Hispanics continue to be under-represented and invisible in the Australian mainstream media. Second, Spanish language newspapers are a cultural and linguistic resource which creates a sense of place and belonging for Hispanics in multicultural Australia. Third, this thesis identifies that Australia’s diverse Spanish-speaking community consumes Spanish language newspapers not only to fulfil their informational and social needs, but to maintain Spanish as a community language, culture, and identity via a collective media space. That is, these newspapers have created an imagined sense of belonging to a pan-ethnic community, despite the community’s diverse national origins and cultural and linguistic heritage. Fourth, digital communication technologies have contributed to the expansion of an imagined community, which has made it easier, cheaper, and faster to maintain and acquire a transnational audience. The findings of this thesis have implications for promoting community ethnic media, language and identity, and the use of digital communication technologies to facilitate community ethnic media opportunities.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Hum, Lang & Soc Sc
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Spanish language media
Print and online Spanish
Spanish in Australia
Spanish language newspapers
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