Nettlefold_whole_thesis_ex_pub_mat.pdf (2.63 MB)
Improving citizen engagement : community conversations and collaboration on ABC local radio
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 10:57 authored by Jocelyn NettlefoldJocelyn Nettlefold
Public broadcasting radio now operates at a time of political disengagement, media consolidation and digital fragmentation. The basis of this thesis is that new empirical research is essential to assess the significance of these latest developments that shape public broadcasting and to explore the possibilities for radio broadcasters to expand engagement with their audiences. Through an industry-informed and focused inquiry into local radio, this thesis advances an understanding of journalism 'as conversation', specifically those professional practices that attend to improving the diversity and depth of discourse and civic engagement. The research data collection methods for the investigation include: observation and discourse analysis of a series of radio forums covering contentious local issues in Tasmania and long qualitative interviews with journalists, participants- and leaders of public broadcasting. It finds that an active commitment to collaboration, voice and diversity in conversational radio journalism practice can facilitate citizen engagement and public trust, as long as sufficient time and resources support such activity. Creating a space for intense focus on local issues, with debate framed transparently, not only produces opportunities for citizens to participate more fully in their communities, but creates empathy and builds consensus. This suggests that a wider function for local journalism is to not only inform the public, but also to pursue collaborative practices which empower citizens and foster social inclusion. As such, the thesis contributes to scholarship about the changing values of news and journalism, public broadcasting, journalism-as-conversation, and radio, and contributes insight to inform contemporary practice.
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