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Limited interests, resources, voices: power relations in mainstream news coverage of Indigenous policy in Australia
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Emma Mesikaemmen
Recognising the importance of who gets to speak in constructing knowledges about Indigenous peoples, this article examines power relations regarding mainstream news coverage of the Indigenous policy of Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) in Australia. Integrating content and discourse analysis of newspaper and television stories over a 3-year timeframe with interviews with journalists, this article found media coverage of the NTER, commonly known as the Intervention, followed a pattern of decline, with occasional peaks around events that were newsworthy through the lens of conventional news values. Further, analysis of three key discourse moments found ‘official’ discourses, particularly by the government, overpowered those of Indigenous peoples living under the policy. This article demonstrates how particular journalistic practices – news values, ideas of audiences, and use of sources – together with resource limitations and discursive practices of government provided dominant discursive power on the Intervention to government representatives. The article concludes that daily routines of news media and discursive practices of media savvy social actors perceived as ‘official’ or ‘expert’ by media professionals form a ‘vicious cycle’ of two-way dependence which is hard to break for potential sources with less official status, such as representatives of various Indigenous communities.