My Place, My Media: community media and local environmental issues

TitleMy Place, My Media: community media and local environmental issues
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Foxwell, K.
Affiliation (1st Author)Griffith Centre For Cultural Research Griffith University Australia
Section or WGCommunity Communication Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeCoCF3a
Slot Code (Keyword)CoCF3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleAddressing the Environmental Crisis through Community and Alternative Media
Submission ID6075

In late 2010, for the fourth time in recent history, a tourist park was proposed by the local council for the dunes of Bogangar/Cabarita Beach, a small community situated in Northern New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia. Each time the tourist park issue has arisen, public protests and other community actions have ensued. Typically, residents have protested the loss of natural bush habitat and the visual impact often citing the lack of coastal dune development as the distinctive feature of the area. The most recent tourist park proposal again raised a passionate response from residents. A community information meeting attracted well over 300 locals (in a village of 3000) and a Facebook page dedicated to the issue has over 750 members. During a walk through the proposed site, the local Resident’s Association spokesperson mentioned the need to provide alternatives to local council plans. The author offered her research services to the local Resident’s Association, collating community ideas on an alternate vision for Bogangar. As some might have predicted, what followed was a vociferous media stoush involving local councillors and their bureaucrats, local community organisations and individuals – all with a passionate dedication to often contrary outcomes for the coastal site in question. For nearly twelve months, the author was a regular source in local media reports. This paper reflects on this direct experience of a local environmental controversy and its representation in local media. Using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, this paper compares mainstream media coverage with community and alternative media coverage of this contentious local issue. Alongside a media content analysis, interviews with local journalists, bureaucrats, councillors and activists illuminate the context for local media reporting – uncovering a surprising range of similarities and differences in orientation and framing. Internationally, community and alternative media boast a special relationship with their audiences – representing the diversity of cultures, beliefs and ideas - allowing citizens to create and participate in their own media. This paper will begin to explore how the relationship between local people and their places is or could be, articulated by community and alternative media practitioners and outlets. At this moment in history when environmental risk and disaster looms, what are the prospects for this media to deliver on both ecological and communicative democracy?

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