Interpretive communities and the legitimation of news values: a recursive framing analysis of the representation of refugees in The Australian

Hall, Mary Anne (2010) Interpretive communities and the legitimation of news values: a recursive framing analysis of the representation of refugees in The Australian. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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This study investigated the potential for bias resulting from the pursuit of journalistic 'objectivity' and news values. It presented the theoretical structure of frame analysis and interpretive community theory, and applied it to the representation of refugees in The Australian, with in-depth focus on the reporting of Villawood Detention Centre. It conducted structured observation of journalists undertaking a news factor selection test using a range of refugee topics as test material. It then extended this investigation to a textual analysis of all refugee reports published in The Australian between 2003 and 2006.

Findings from this research indicated that the basic principles of journalism provide minimal foundation for independent investigation and interpretation, rather operate to merely transmit the agenda of the seemingly 'authoritative' and 'prominent'. Determining the answer to the journalistic 'what' only ever occurred within the limited parameters of an immediate event taking place within the boundaries of the immediate circulation district, with the 'why' it happened reserved only for the opinions of those who, in journalistic terms, identified as 'authoritative' and unproblematically 'verifiable'.

The journalistic pursuit of 'newsworthiness', which resulted in The Australian's focus on 'event reporting, particularly those relating to conflict and drama' (White 1996, p. 34), allowed no framework in which to discuss the complex and ongoing processes surrounding mandatory and extended detention. This contributed to the rallying of public support against those seeking asylum – which allowed the Howard Government to both limit the number of successful visa applications and gain voter support for the punitive measures taken against those refugees already detained.

On a broader scale, findings also indicated that it is not news values in isolation that make refugee issues newsworthy. Rather, the four domains in journalism as developed in this study: professionalism; nationalism and key events; journalists' subjective beliefs; and institutional objectives, all express the complex processes that constitute journalists' decision-making processes.

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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Supervisors: Harrison, Karey
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2011 04:33
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 02:12
Uncontrolled Keywords: The Australian; refugees; representation
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190399 Journalism and Professional Writing not elsewhere classified

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