Recovering a radio ethos: how John Curtin and Franklin D. Roosevelt created conversational spaces with journalists, 1941-1945©

Coatney, Caryn (2016) Recovering a radio ethos: how John Curtin and Franklin D. Roosevelt created conversational spaces with journalists, 1941-1945©. In: 2016 Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Annual Conference (ANZCA 2016): Creating Space in the Fifth Estate, 6-8 July 2016, Newcastle, New South Wales.

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John Curtin and Franklin D. Roosevelt developed a radio ethos to convey public appearances of transparent, authentic and interactive leadership during the South-West Pacific war. Yet this ethos of intimacy was often obscured in the post-war consensus of mass communication as an impersonal, one-way form of address from a political leader to the audience. This paper sets out to recover the meaning of this ethos and its relevance for journalism and other communication forms.

Although often forgotten, this broadcasting ethos elevated journalism’s role in opening more public views of the Australian prime minister and US president seemingly conversing with citizens as peers. Curtin and Roosevelt set communication precedents by informally inviting journalists to their broadcasting studios to report on their radio talks. They persuaded reporters to portray them as ‘genuine’ communicators who enjoyed close, equal relations with public audiences. This paper uses newly discovered archives that delve behind the scenes of their broadcasting production.

This is the first study to show how the two leaders involved journalists in reporting on their apparently off-the-cuff radio talks with news audiences about their alliance. Previously confidential media archives reveal their ability to mask their carefully timed, stage-managed radio scripts. The reporters presented news images of them as natural speakers and ordinary citizens, galvanising public support for their wartime leadership. The public sphere already contained the visual, audio and press elements that allowed more public glimpses into government discussions on wartime decisions. The two leaders’ radio ethos is useful for the study of journalism’s role in communication spaces that appear to bridge a divide between a political leader and citizens.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: c. 2016 Australian and New Zealand Communication Association. Abstract only published in Proceedings.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 01:35
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2018 05:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: government-media relations; mass communication; John Curtin; Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190301 Journalism Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
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