Power to the People: Public Journalism and the Renewal of Public Life

Romano, Angela R. (1999) Power to the People: Public Journalism and the Renewal of Public Life. In Communications Research Forum, 27-28 September 1999, Old Parliament House.


While journalists are generally good-natured about promoting anti-AIDS, anti-drink driving and "slip-slop-slap" skin cancer messages, they are usually wary of reportage that involves engagement with their topics and their audiences. Traditional standards of objectivity and impartiality encourage journalists to maintain a distance from their topics, reporting the 'facts' as they emerge, without much analysis of the consequences of their reports or how their audiences might use the information in their daily lives.

Proponents of a new style of journalism, public journalism, have challenged such attitudes in an attempt to respond to declining audience levels and increasing community alienation from old-style news and traditional political processes. Public journalism acknowledges that the media bombards the community with claims and counter-claims from political and other vested interest groups, leaving audiences with a poor understanding about what choices little people can make to influence public life or how politicians and other leaders can be compelled to act on these choices. Public journalism aims to reinvigorate the connections between journalists, the public and politicians.

Early stages of experimentation by Australia's first Public Journalism Project have shown encouraging responses to attempts to give greater access to the political voice of the common people. This project -- a collaboration involving the Queensland University of Technology, the Ethnic Communities Council, Australians for Reconciliation Project and Queensland's daily Courier-Mail -- called on the public to set the agenda for debate on race relations issues such as Aboriginal reconciliation and immigration. This paper details the processes involved in establishing and running the project, and the successes and limitations of the project as seen both by the organisers and public participants in the project.

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ID Code: 5970
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: public journalism, multiculturalism, Indigenous reconciliation, politics, deliberative democracy
ISBN: 64275067X
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1999 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 09 Jan 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2009 07:18

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