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Propositional journalism and navigational leadership in Tasmania


Dodd, B, Propositional journalism and navigational leadership in Tasmania, Platform: journal of media and communication, 8, (2) pp. 68-82. ISSN 1836-5132 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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© 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The future is a world that communication serves to anticipate and construct in the present; a world populated by propositions and developments which, before materialising, are often mediated by journalists’ everyday decisions concerning newsworthiness, source selection and framing. This category of reporting, which I term ‘propositional journalism’, plays a vital role in democratic societies by providing the public with a range of options and alternatives to consider. It is also an important source of public optimism—counteracting pervasive disaster, crime and corruption reporting. However, it is a category of reporting that has been subjected to criticism. According to David Beers (2006, p. 121), the news media’s reporting of the future is limited by the visions and propositions of, ‘corporate-funded think tanks, public relations experts paid by corporations, advertising experts selling us the shape of the new, and government officials beholden to corporate lobbyists.

In response to this critique, and a lack of research on proposition-centred reporting in the academic literature, this paper presents the findings from a case study analysis of propositional journalism in Tasmania where, perhaps more than anywhere else, propositions (dams and pulp mills especially) have fixated political discourse and provoked bitter controversy. The study sought to identify whose voices were most prominent in pitching and commenting on propositions and how this type of reporting was framed. Over a six month sample comprising 1,172 proposition-centred articles from the three major, local news outlets—The Mercury (Hobart), The Examiner (Launceston) and ABC Tasmania (statewide)—the research found that politician and business sources together represented more than two-thirds of all sources. This paper argues that their prominence was legitimised by the metaphorical framing of news articles. The most common framing devices appeared to celebrate leadership qualities which were identified as proficiency in navigation, construction, gambling, nurturance and marketing. These metaphorical virtues tended to legitimise the dominant political and business sources and served to construct alternative sources and propositions as unreliable and illegitimate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Propositional journalism, Tasmania, future-focused journalism, solutions journalism, leadership, frame analysis, metaphor analysis
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Communication studies
Objective Division:Information and Communication Services
Objective Group:Media services
Objective Field:Publishing and print services
UTAS Author:Dodd, B (Mr Bill Dodd)
ID Code:125016
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2018-03-23
Last Modified:2018-04-23
Downloads:47 View Download Statistics

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