In exploring the issues of journalism and inclusion within a comparative and international framework, it is useful to seek initial commonalities between the countries and societies concerned, before seeking to understand the consequences of differences between them. One overarching framework that may be helpful can be found in the concept of “empire project”, drawn from studies of global political and cultural economy. Empire can be conceived as having three faces that together constitute its presence and operation: occupation and defense of territory against other empires; subordination and invalidation of peoples and their prior claims to control the territory (Indigenous presence), and the re-ordering of populations (Indigenous, locally born and immigrant) into a political “people”.

The imperial histories of the US and Australia play a significant role in the way in which news, understood as the pools of commonly accessible social information about recent events, is constructed and communicated through industrial and technological mechanisms developed in the society. The political economy of information frames but does not totally determine the possibilities of journalism in a society. In this presentation I want to explore the relation between media power, social power, and discursive practices of difference within the field of journalism in Australia.

The critical tensions within multicultural democracy are those between pressures towards conformity, acquiescence and subordination to hierarchies of cultural and economic power on the one hand, and desire for cultural autonomy, cohesion and expression among minorities on the other. Glasser et al. in their San Jose study point to this problem and its elaboration in local journalism at many different levels: the different economic power of Knight Ridder papers compared to the local Hispanic press, the different mode of address and assumption of audience (liberal educated middle class White or Hispanic male vs Hispanic community member from poorer area with experiences of racism and exploitation); the different levels of technology and access to information; and the different worldview/weltanscchaung in relation to the profession of journalism, pursuer of objective truth or balance of opinion, as against mobilizing advocate of minority interests.

In this discussion of Australia I explore journalism in all three dimensions of empire: in relation to the subordination of Indigenous people as experienced through the Northern Territory Federal “Intervention” (2006 and continuing), in relation to the homogenization of populations into a people as in the media frenzy around Islam in Australia after 9/11; and in terms of relations with an adjacent emergent empire, the situation of Indian “students” in Australia. Clearly in a short presentation I can just touch on the issues; the main aim of this analysis is to set the grounds for an argument about the relation of broader social dynamics and the specifics of journalism practice which I will explore in depth in the final chapter for the symposium book. My general comments relate to parameters, not to detail, which will be affected by the interaction of many factors.

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