Unmasking codes of power: expanding the relatively new media to escalate war, 1941-45

Coatney, Caryn (2014) Unmasking codes of power: expanding the relatively new media to escalate war, 1941-45. In: 2014 Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) Conference: Breaking the Codes - Journalism, Technology, Information and Education in the 21st Century, 24-27 Nov 2014, Sydney, Australia.

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Abstract: As wartime leaders, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt expanded film communication technologies and practices to develop codes of language signifying their personal relationships with target audiences to win endorsement for escalating the Pacific conflict. Despite the gaps in the literature of the Curtin and Roosevelt newsreels, an investigation of their visual and oral performances reveals they used the relatively new media disingenuously to appear that they were involving citizens in their Pacific decisions. This paper conducts a new semiotic comparison of rarely viewed samples of unscreened and public newsreels to show how the two leaders created rehearsed images of their close friendships with mass audiences. Although they appeared to inform and engage citizens, they selectively used film propaganda and censorship to influence public perceptions of their nations’ military roles in the Pacific battles from 1941 to 1945. Through the cinematic depictions, news film teams accomplished what Michel Foucault later described as masking power, divisive struggles and governmental tensions. The expanding wartime media provided opportunities for Curtin and Roosevelt to restructure social cinema spaces, increasingly encouraging audiences to view the national leader in an equal relationship with citizens. Few broadcast journalists challenged the two leaders’ image manipulations and they cooperated to replicate homespun messages of Curtin and Roosevelt as interacting with “the people” that resonated with wartime listeners, cinema audiences and radio magazine readers. Although the use of communication technologies has developed unevenly with successive Australian and US governments, more democratic leaders have used the relatively new media to interact with citizens by appearing more ordinary than extraordinary, showing their rapport with voters. This historical analysis indicates a continuing need for journalists to delve beyond the relatively new forms of political leaders’ communications and create substantive discussions for an informed, engaged citizenry. ©

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2014 07:13
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 04:52
Uncontrolled Keywords: journalism history; media history; political communication; John Curtin; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; World War II
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190301 Journalism Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26434

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