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Social Sciences Seminar | News media, minority governments & the "New Tasmania"


A seminar in the Salamanca Media School featuring PhD researchers Cath Hughes and Bill Dodd

Start Date

17 Aug 2018 3:00 pm

End Date

17 Aug 2018 4:00 pm


Seminar room 206 (SA.SA03.L02.206), Media School in Salamanca, Level 2, 2 Salamanca Square, Hobart

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A joint seminar presented by PhD candidates Cath Hughes and Bill Dodd from the University of Tasmania's School of Social Sciences.

Cath Hughes will discuss her research into the role of news media in messaging around minority government:

Who’s Afraid of Minority Government? A comparative analysis of the role news media plays in agenda-setting and myth-making.

While minority governments are not unusual in other western democracies, national and state political elites tend to treat hung parliaments and minority governments with suspicion. Recent research into local occurrence of minority government tends to focus upon the legislative success or failure of these periods, or the party political machinations involved. There is little analysis of whether, and if so to what extent, the local news media plays a role in setting or perpetuating current perceptions of the functionality of minority government.

This research study explores whether, why and how partisan and non-partisan actors, including political actors, news media, and third party stakeholders seek to influence Tasmanians’ perceptions of minority government. Specifically, this project examines the role news media plays in conveying complex political concepts to the voting public, as well as other stakeholders, with a particular focus on the formation of, and influence upon, perceptions of minority government and hung parliament within the context of state election campaigns.  For example, is it, as some theory’s suggest, a matter of the media being an objective conduit which conveys passively the message from the political sphere to the public, or is it more of a feedback loop, or does the media take more of an active role in shaping ‘the message’ it is conveying? And, if so, how?

Bill Dodd will present his research into the role of news media in promoting voices that are reflective of the so-called "New Tasmania:

Revaluating leadership and news access in ‘New Tasmania’.

‘New Tasmania’ refers to a deliberate reform of Tasmania’s image, economy and social policy; away from the state’s historic association with conservative social policy and heavy industry, and a reorientation towards the burgeoning tourism, information technology, hospitality, gastronomy, real estate and the arts. It also purports to reflect a diversification and democratisation of leadership; bookending a period of environmental conflict and political scandal.

To test the claims and ideals of ‘New Tasmania’ from a media scholarship perspective, my research examined a 2014 sample of ‘propositional journalism’ to determine whose voices were most prominent and how specific types of leadership correlated with idiomatic, metaphorical and evaluative news frames. It found that, contrary to the democratic ideals of ‘New Tasmania’, news sources tended to belong to a limited range of business and political fields and were overwhelmingly male. Their leadership was legitimised, I argue, by the routine use of idiomatic language relating to leadership as metaphorically akin to navigation, construction and gambling.  

This talk canvasses alternative journalistic models, definitions of leadership and news values that could serve to better democratise propositional journalism. This includes the emerging fields of ‘constructive journalism’, ‘solutions journalism’ and ‘future-focused journalism’.


Institute for Social Change
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 44


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