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Volume 4, Number 1, 2004


Abstracts

Competition to Closure: an analysis of commercial news services in the Central Queensland Rockhampton Region

By Denis Cryle and Christina Hunt

In the context of the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s inquiry of 2001-02 into the adequacy of commercial television services in regional Australia and growing regulatory pressures during 2003, the authors have undertaken a survey of local news and information coverage in the Rockhampton region of Central Queensland during November 2003 in order to ‘test run’ and assess the ABA’s newly recommended local content guidelines for commercial news. In addition to measuring the current performance of the incumbent operator WIN Television, the dominant commercial operator in the Rockhampton district of Central Queensland, the authors provide background on the role of WIN and its predecessor, RTQ7 prior to aggregation in establishing a television audience and identity at regional level. The content analysis of its contemporary news service seeks to identify the major categories of available local news disseminated for the period in question and their relative weighting under the ABA’s proposed code.

 

Girls Get a Voice on Regional Radio: A Rockhampton Case Study

By Kate Ames

Rockhampton, Central Queensland, has three major ‘players’ in the FM radio stakes. These are Triple J (commenced broadcasting into Rockhampton in 1996), and SEA FM and HOT FM (commenced broadcasting into Rockhampton in 2000/2001). These three stations currently attract the vast majority of Central Queensland’s radio audience in the 17 - 39 year age bracket.

Triple J was overwhelmingly popular as the only youth/rock oriented FM station in the Rockhampton and Gladstone area (Ames 1997). However, Triple J’s traditional alliance with rock/masculine influences how its presenters interact with their predominantly male audience. The approach by commercial FM stations is very different, and based on a content and discourse analysis of breakfast shows of all three stations, this paper discusses the significance of the ‘female voice’ and associated representations on local commercial FM stations.

The paper examines the relationship between announcer and audience, and ideologies that influence this exchange. Where female voices are less evident in regional print media (Macklin 1995, p. 295), this research to date suggests that the introduction of commercial FM stations into the Rockhampton and Gladstone area has provided significant opportunity for a higher female profile in a regional media context.

 

'Parish pump' or community forum: an analysis of The Observer's reportage of the Stuart Shale Oil Project

By Jane Macdonald

Historically, the regional newspaper has been at the forefront in advancing its community’s economic needs. This article will examine the distinctive role of this medium in contemporary Australia and argue that ‘parish pump’ advocacy is still being pursued today. It will present the findings of a study into Gladstone’s daily newspaper, The Observer, and its reportage of the long-running Stuart Shale Oil Project. The project has been acclaimed as indicative of the city’s growth potential and the shale oil industry promoted as a possible answer to Australia’s future oil needs. However, its development has come at a cost. Nearby residents’ lives have been so affected, they are now leaving their homes and properties as the Queensland Government buys their land. Greenpeace protests have also attracted widespread negative media coverage. The organisation’s role in highlighting the development and The Observer’s reaction to this will be discussed. In light of the project’s negative impact on parts of the community, this article will address the question of whether a regional newspaper can present balanced coverage in a community heavily reliant on the economic contribution of industry.

 

Exploding the Objectivity myth: A case study of participatory journalism

By Robert O’Sullivan

Is there a new form of journalism focussed on participation in the events reported? If this is the case, what has happened to the traditional ethic of reporter objectivity? This article argues that journalistic objectivity can exist but not in a philosophic or scientific sense. Rather, objectivity is the icon of professional journalism. It is encapsulated in a Code of Practice that entrenches the myth that a person can totally put aside beliefs or prejudices when interpreting events or evaluating the way people behave.

The argument that journalistic objectivity is really a code of practice is supported by a case study of a civil stalking case brought against a former lover by the female Mayor of the Maroochy Shire based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. In reporting the trial, the region’s major newspaper not only reported the court case it joined in as it considered the salacious events had a wider public interest.

 

Desperately Seeking Local Subjectivity: Defining local, community, and region through WIN television news

By Philip Robertson

Television news is one of the core sites for the issues and scholarship that fall under the broad rubric of cultural studies. These interests have to do with contemporary grand academic narratives such as representation, ideology, and power. At least since David Morley’s foundational work on BBC coverage of industrial relations in Britain during the late 1960s — foundational to the so-called Birmingham School, to the discipline of British Cultural Studies itself, and to media studies generally — television news has been seen as a contested site of cultural struggle and resistance, as a key player in the operation of the state ideological apparatus, and as a focal point for interpellation of the citizen subject, of the contradictions of class consciousness, and indeed, of the national self.

But local, as opposed to national, television news has never been studied in the context of these sorts of questions. This paper tests such metropolitan theoretical concepts against the ‘calling forth’, or modalities of address, that may or may not take place given the realities of ‘local’, ‘community’, and ‘regional’ subjectivities, by examining the work of WIN TV, Australia’s last remaining local news service, broadcasting into several markets in Central Queensland from Rockhampton. It concludes that such Althusserian, post-structuralist generalisations of the workings of class, ideology, power, state apparatus, representation, and so on, would require significant refinement and change to be sustainable or even of much interpretative use in the regional television news media context.

Editor

Professor Alan Knight, Central Queensland University

Advisory Panel

Dr Yoshiko Nakano, Hong Kong University

Elliott S. Parker, Central Michigan University, USA

Dr Philip Robertson, Central Queensland University

Jim Tully, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Dr Stephen Stockwell, Griffith University

Philip Cass, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates

Dr Steve Quinn, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates

     

Ejournalist is published by ejournalism.au.com, Faculty of Informatics and Communication, Central Queensland University