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Volume 11, Number 2, 2011



Is print journalism creative?

Janet Fulton

The idea that print journalism is creative is one that is not universally accepted: ‘making a story up’ goes against the fundamental understandings of journalism. Further to this, society’s understanding of creativity is that a producer must have no limitations to be able to create and the rules and conventions a journalist works within are seen to constrain their production of creative media texts.
However, by using a Rationalist framework, it can be argued that creative activity in print journalism is not only possible but plausible. By using Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity to examine the creative practices of print journalists, this paper argues it is the structures a journalist works within that enables production and it is by their agency that journalists can produce creative media texts.
Interestingly, a literature review has revealed that creative and creativity are frequently used within journalism’s literature but the terms are rarely defined. Therefore, this paper presents rational arguments for how a print journalist is a creative producer of media texts as well as providing a definition for creativity in a journalistic context.


Unusual Suspects: A Newspaper’s Coverage of a Scuba Diving Rescue and Journalism’s Role in Narrating Australia

Dr Janine Little

Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper ran a fantastic story a couple of years ago about a couple left at sea behind by their tour boat, after going scuba diving. The story suggested American diver Allyson Dalton and her British partner Richard Neely ignored advice when they ventured away from a lagoon where the tour boat was anchored. But the focus was on how Neely and Dalton survived by treading water for 19 hours at Paradise Reef, part of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, not so much (yet) on how fortunate they were not to be attacked by sharks. It would not be long, however, before that old journalistic maxim that implores practitioners to ‘question every assertion, doubt every claim’ shaped the reportage into an extended narrative about chequebook journalism, credibility, and culpability.
The scuba dive rescue story analysis presented here reflects contemporary journalism’s role in the formation of ideas about cultural value and character, and in more complex determinations of who gets a participatory stake in the formation of national narratives. As such, the article concludes with some signposts toward a critical approach to journalism-centred studies of culture in Australia.


Australian creative non-fiction: Perspectives and opinions

Dr Sue Joseph

Figures confirm that Australians avidly read their ‘creative non-fiction’. But most would be unable to name the genre – it is not as widely defined or discussed in Australia as it is in the USA and UK, where it is actively debated and anthologised.
This paper goes to the heart of the genre in Australia, investigating through narrative interview why there is not more of an Australian voice in this international debate. It examines the perspectives and views of twelve of the country’s most widely read, awarded and respected creative non-fiction authors, drawing them into the discussion.
There appears a wide spread disinterest from those who write creative non-fiction in this country to label it as such. But a disinterest in categorisation does not discredit the validity of the writing – indeed, this disinterest lends itself to an idiosyncratic character, or one of many ‘different national manifestations’ around the world.
The writings of creative non-fiction authors in Australia are an integral part of a social history, and as such must be studied and collated as our own ‘cultural pathway’. The international debate is an important one to take part in, as a collective impetus grows to legitimise the genre as a collection of differing national cultural assets.


The budding of free speech in the mountain Kingdom of Bhutan

Kesang Dema and Prof Alan Knight

Democracy and free speech is creating an active and mediasphere in tiny Bhutan, a country which uniquely places happiness before economic growth. As recently as 2002, Reporters Without Borders rated Bhutan 135 out of 139 in its Press Freedom Index. However since then, Bhutan has moved towards democracy with the first free polls conducted in 2008. Bhutan’s first constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and the right to information. It sparked new laws, aimed at protecting and regulating Bhutanese media.
This article examines the evolution of these media freedoms since the elections. It does so by surveying the attitudes of more than half of all of Bhutan’s registered journalists, seeking their opinions on dealing with government and bureaucracy. The survey has been complimented by a content analysis of Bhutan’s oldest newspaper, Kuensel, as it reported on democracy and change


News media representations of homelessness: Do economic news production pressures prevent journalists from adequately reporting complex social issues

Paul Rossall

This study used both content and frame analyses to test news-media representations of homelessness in The Courier-Mail newspaper for evidence of restricted journalism practice. Specifically, it sought signs of either direct manipulation of issue representation based on ideological grounds, and also evidence of news organisations prioritising low-cost news production over Public Sphere journalistic news values. The study found that news stories from the earlier parts of the longitudinal study showed stereotypical misrepresentations of homelessness for public deliberation which might be attributed to either, or both of the nominated restricting factors. However news stories from the latter part of the study saw a distinct change in the way the issue was represented, indicating a journalistic capacity to thoughtfully and sensitively represent a complex social issue to the public. Further study is recommended to ascertain how and why this change occurred, so that journalistic practice might be further improved.


Australian mainstream media coverage of Asian football

Mike Tuckerman and Associate Prof Leo Bowman

This papers uses coverage of Asian football in the Australian mainstream media as a case study to examine the extent to which agenda setting through interaction between media sports departments and sports journalists potentially impedes the understanding of the game in a broader social and political context. It does so by situating media sports departments and sports journalists in the broader sports field and examines the extent to which the field has adapted its coverage to the particularities of emerging Australian engagement with football in Asia .

For the purposes of this article, the study employed a mixture of participant observation, literature review and informal workplace interviews with a variety of media practitioners. The two participant observation components were comprised of a ten-day working trip to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2011 and a two-week internship at Fairfax Media publication Brisbane Times in March .


Science, media and the public: the framing of the bicycle helmet legislation debate in Australia : a newspaper content analysis.

Tessa Alice Piper, Simon John Willcox, Catriona Bonfiglioli, Adrian Emilsen and Paul Martin

Research challenging assumptions about the value of bicycle helmets and the laws which make them mandatory recently triggered a media debate about bicycle helmet laws and prompted discussion as to the extent to which health behaviours should be legislated. This increased media coverage provided an opportunity to examine how the media frames this issue. A much greater variety of frames opposing helmet laws were identified compared with frames supporting them. The outbreak of debate in the media, and wide range of conflicting perspectives, reveal public uncertainty about the legislation, and reinforce the complexity of this issue for public health policy.


Health reporting: The missing links.

Associate Prof. Trevor Cullen

There is a growing interest in health stories. This is evident from both the increase of health publications and online research for health information. But how accurate and reliable are these stories. Two surveys in the United States that examined the state of online health reporting exposed the extent of spin, the lack of medical evidence and the narrow frame and context of many health stories. This last point, narrowcasting, is the main focus of this article and the research questions examine why this is so and how coverage could be widened. Using press coverage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) as a case study, the author argues that health communication theories, and in particular, Social Change Communication (SCC), can help to widen the framing of HIV journalism and health journalism by reporting the social, economic, cultural, religious and political determinants of health. These links could be applied to coverage of other communicable and non-communicable diseases.


Avoidance in contemporary Australian political interviews

Dr Kasun Ubayasiri

Political interviews in the theatre of television, a form of turn-taking dialogue, is not simply an exchange of information in the form of utterances, but a theatrical process, where impressions are formed through not only what is said, but what is not said and how things are said.

The paper focuses on three instances where politicians in the contemporary Australian media landscape attempt to change the conversation trajectory, violating norms of turn-taking dialogue, which result in the theatrical elements taking precedence over the interview content. The examples focus on three distinct attempts to avoid answering a simple yet damaging political question, where in the absence of a meaningful dialogue, both the journalists and the politicians resort to projecting their respective messages through interview theatrics as opposed to content. The study argues that both journalist and politicians are aware of the audience, the ultimate arbitrators of the voracity of the information presented in the interview.




Professor Alan Knight,
University of Technology, Sydney

Advisory Panel

Dr Judith Clarke, Baptist University, Hong Kong

Elliott S. Parker, Central Michigan University, USA

Dr Lee Richard Duffield, Queensland University of Technology

Jim Tully, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Dr Kasun Ubayasiri, Griffith University, Brisbane

Philip Cass, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Stephen Stockwell, Griffith University, Gold Coast

Dr Steve Quinn, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China


Ejournalist: refereed media journal. ISSN 1444-741X