Writing to be Heard: The Indigenous Print Media's Role in Establishing and Developing an Indigenous Public Sphere

Elizabeth Anne Burrows, Susan Forde, University, My
Indigenous Australians make up only 2.5 percent of the Australian population and have historically had limited opportunity to influence public debate or policy. This has led to many Indigenous people feeling democratically disconnected from the broader Australian society. Despite this, since 1938 more than 35 publications have been produced by Indigenous Australians and those with an interest in Indigenous affairs, yet very little research has been carried out to establish how and why these
more » ... w and why these newspapers were produced or what they achieved. Similarly, little is known about the role Indigenous print media in establishing and developing an Indigenous public sphere. This thesis seeks to bridge these gaps. The thesis investigates the nature of an Indigenous public sphere in Australia, and aims to provide both an historic and journalistic understanding of how and why these newspapers existed with an insight into the people who produced the newspapers, the problems they faced and the journalistic techniques that they employed to achieve their very diverse aims. A three-phase research approach was undertaken. A series of semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with Indigenous print media producers and contributors. A general textual analysis was then undertaken of a wide range of Indigenous publications accessed through Australian libraries and universities. Finally, available archival materials relating to the organisations and individuals involved in the production of Indigenous publications were analysed. The data gathered was then evaluated using the qualitative analytical software program, Nvivo. The study reveals Indigenous public spheres have always existed and since 1938 Indigenous print media have played a significant role in their development. This study suggests the broader Indigenous public sphere consists of a series of overlapping spheres that are themselves made up of layers. The tiered construction of Indigenous public spheres limits the access individuals may have to public sphere processes and [...]
doi:10.25904/1912/3292 fatcat:tw7yoryifrbshavmh6nbhzogvu