Listening in to the Indigenous Public Sphere

TitleListening in to the Indigenous Public Sphere
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Dreher, T.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Wollongong, Australia
Section or WGCommunity Communication Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeCoCW4a
Slot Code (Keyword)CoCW4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleIndigenous Communication
Submission ID7296

The launch of NITV (National Indigenous Television), the first national Indigenous free to air network in Australia in December 2012 was a milestone in the development of the Indigenous public sphere. Indigenous media is the most rapidly growing media sector in Australia, providing essential services to diverse Indigenous communities across the country. The launch of NITV was hailed as a historic opportunity for all Australians. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summed up the promise: “[L]et us be clear, NITV is not just for Indigenous people. The channel will enrich and benefit all Australians who now have access to 60,000 years of powerful storytelling and knowledge. This will improve understanding of Australia’s first peoples and help to create a brighter future for all.” NITV’s move from a pay TV subscription service to a free to air broadcaster marks a decisive moment in which Indigenous voices and stories have become easily accessible to all Australians. From the perspective of ‘voice’ or speaking, this is a significant achievement.This paper proposes a methodology with which to examine the recognition of Indigenous media such as NITV from the perspective of ‘listening’. If NITV enables Indigenous voices and stories to be heard by all Australians – to what extent are those voices heard by non-Indigenous Australians? Adopting a concept of political listening developed in previous research, here I argue for attention to key political listeners such as mainstream journalists and policymakers in determining the ways in which Indigenous voice enabled by Indigenous media is, or isn’t, valued in wider Australian public debate. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, I aim to discern the other side of the politics of voice which underpins much work in community communications, focusing instead on the under-researched question of listening understood as receptivity, recognition and response. This methodology brings into focus the media practices of powerful listeners in response to the voice of historically marginalised peoples.

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