Reporting on war: Press Gallery interactions with Australian Prime Ministers, 1941-2013

Paper


Coatney, Caryn. 2020. "Reporting on war: Press Gallery interactions with Australian Prime Ministers, 1941-2013." Wake, Alex and Morieson, Lucy (ed.) Journalism Education & Research Association of Australia Conference (JERAA 2020). Melbourne, Australia 02 - 04 Dec 2020 Melbourne, Australia.
Paper/Presentation Title

Reporting on war: Press Gallery interactions with Australian Prime Ministers, 1941-2013

Presentation TypePaper
Authors
AuthorCoatney, Caryn
EditorsWake, Alex and Morieson, Lucy
Number of Pages1
Year2020
Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
Web Address (URL) of Paperhttps://jeraa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/JERAA-2020-Abstracts.pdf
Conference/EventJournalism Education & Research Association of Australia Conference (JERAA 2020)
Event Details
Journalism Education & Research Association of Australia Conference (JERAA 2020)
Parent
Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia Conference
Event Date
02 to end of 04 Dec 2020
Event Location
Melbourne, Australia
Abstract

The Canberra Parliamentary Press Gallery has long been the centre of national debates over whether journalists are reporting independently for public audiences. The debates have escalated during the news coverage of Australia’s longstanding role in terror-related conflicts. In particular, critics have charged that many journalists have not fulfilled their roles as watchdogs to hold political leaders to account during Australia’s extensive military interventions overseas. More recently, scholars have acknowledged journalists’ growing willingness to present increasingly nuanced reporting of Australia’s role in international conflicts. This paper seeks to answer the question: how has the press gallery portrayed the prime ministerial messages of terrorism between World War II and Australia’s longest conflict, the war in Afghanistan? This study focuses on the press gallery’s interviews of the prime minister during the period from John Curtin in World War II to Julia Gillard during the conflict in Afghanistan. The study argues that Press Gallery journalists initially focused on upbeat messages and personality profiles of Curtin, as well as of Robert Menzies when he was Prime Minister during the Vietnam War.This style of reporting continued with the media coverage of John Howard and Kevin Rudd during Australia’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drawing on the theory of the public sphere, the study finds that press gallery journalists gradually departed from the stage-managed photo opportunities. The journalists involved public audiences in more national debates over the meaning and value of the war. Public discourse and citizen contributions to the news became more influential in shaping the press gallery coverage of war and terrorism.

KeywordsCanberra Parliamentary Press Gallery, Prime Ministers, journalism, war and terrorism
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470105. Journalism studies
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Southern Queensland
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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