Article

Politics and the media in Australia and the United Kingdom: parallels and contrasts

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Australia and Britain share many common aspects in their democratic political and media systems, but there are also important differences. Perhaps the single most important media difference is that television has been a much more important element in the UK political communication system than it has been in Australia. The British Broadcasting Corporation is a much bigger and more central institution than the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and commercial TV in Britain has a much stronger public service mandate. The British press has a national structure which can give it a substantive collective role, although its right-wing dominance means it has been a less-than-benign influence on public life. Both countries are facing rapid changes, with partisan political divisions in flux and the digital environment disrupting traditional media models. In this article, we seek to interrogate the commonalities and differences between the media and political systems operating in Australia and the United Kingdom. After tracing some important differences in their institutional structures, the dominant theme of our later analysis is that in both systems, and in both countries, the overarching narrative is one of disruption. And we pose the question – Will the current disruptions widen or narrow these differences?

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... It is important to recognize that media sources play an active role in selecting, shaping and representing issues, suggesting that it is vital to situate their discourse in the context of their broader political orientation (Wettstein et al., 2018). While a range of political views is encompassed in the Australian print media (Gaber and Tiffen, 2018), journalists themselves generally perceive the overall editorial orientation of Australian newspapers to be a little right of centre (Weaver and Willnat, 2020). Generally, The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Brisbane Courier-Mail are widely seen as being most strongly oriented to supporting the Liberal and National party coalition, while the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald tend to be more supportive of the Australian Labour party (Parker, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Drawing on Wendt’s (1995, 1999) thin constructivist approach to international relations this paper aims to critically examine how the measures taken by the Australian Government to protect the country from coronavirus (COVID-19) have prompted politicians and opinion-makers to mobilize globalizing and de-globalizing discourses towards divergent conceptualizations of national resilience. Design/methodology/approach The paper examines 172 Australian political and media articles, which focus on both COVID-19 and globalization/de-globalization published between February and June 2020. The data were imported to NVivo to enable in-depth thematic analysis. Findings The paper develops the concept of crisis protectionism to explain how COVID-19 has been mobilized in discourses aimed at accelerating selective de-globalization in Australia. Selective de-globalization is inductively theorized as involving material structures (i.e. border closures), ideational structures (i.e. national identity) and intersubjectivities (i.e. pre-existing inter-country antagonisms). Research limitations/implications The paper relies upon publicly available data about Australian discourses that relate to a unique globally disrupting extreme event. Practical implications Crisis protectionism and selective de-globalization are important to multinational enterprises (MNE) that operate in essential industry sectors (e.g. medical supply firms), rely upon open borders (e.g. the university sector) and for MNEs entering/operating in a host country experiencing antagonistic relationships with their home country. Originality/value The paper extends Witt’s (2019) political theorization of de-globalization towards a socialized theory of de-globalization. By rejecting liberal and realist explanations of the relationship between COVID-19 and de-globalization, this study highlights the importance and endogeneity of non-market risks and non-economic logic to international business and MNE strategy.
Article
The democratic role of news media in Western society is usually analysed through the lens of the dominant liberal model of media. This model assumes that journalists play a positive part in democracy by monitoring those with power and facilitating a diverse marketplace of ideas. Within this model, journalistic professionalism emphasises objectivity, neutrality, pluralism, balance and independence. There are, however, two types of advocacy journalism which, despite receiving less attention, are nonetheless present in Western media and exhibit characteristics contrary to these liberal values: radical journalism and collaboration between journalists and the state. Through a case study comparing Australian Murdoch media coverage of an industrial dispute to that of non-Murdoch media, this paper proposes a third type of advocacy journalism: conservative advocacy. Through the development of a model of journalistic influence on democracy, conservative advocacy is proposed as the least democratic form of journalism due to its suppression of voices that challenge power.
Article
Full-text available
All societies must make decisions over what to regulate and how. Short of 'black letter law', there are many codes of conduct and models of self-regulation. The press has always been considered a special case, because of the conflicts and potential abuses involved in government regulating an industry which has a central role in reporting and commenting on government activities. However, any consideration of the role of press councils in Britain and Australia shows how, in practice, self-regulation of the press has failed as an avenue for providing accountability. Those who feel aggrieved by coverage only erratically achieve redress or a clear right of reply. Public opinion polls consistently find a low opinion of press performance and ethics.
Book
Full-text available
How Australia Compares is a handy reference that compares Australia with seventeen other developed countries across a wide range of social, economic and political dimensions. Whenever possible, it gives not only snapshot comparisons from the present, but charts trends over recent decades or even longer. Encyclopaedic in scope, it provides statistics for a huge range of human activity, from taxation to traffic accidents, homicide rates to health expenditure, interest rates to internet usage. This new edition is fully revised and updated, and features two new chapters: The Howard Impact and The Search for Scoreboards. New sections include obesity, advertising, broadband internet access, childcare and corruption. Information is highly accessible with double-page spreads for each topic. Tables and graphs are presented on one page, and clear explanation and analysis on the facing page. In each discussion the focus is to put the Australian experience into international perspective, drawing out the implications for the nation’s performance, policies and prospects.
Book
Building on a survey of media institutions in eighteen West European and North American democracies, Hallin and Mancini identify the principal dimensions of variation in media systems and the political variables which have shaped their evolution. They go on to identify three major models of media system development (the Polarized Pluralist, Democratic Corporatist and Liberal models) to explain why the media have played a different role in politics in each of these systems, and to explore the forces of change that are currently transforming them. It provides a key theoretical statement about the relation between media and political systems, a key statement about the methodology of comparative analysis in political communication and a clear overview of the variety of media institutions that have developed in the West, understood within their political and historical context.
Article
The modern news media comprise powerful institutions that require the kind of scrutiny they direct towards other influential institutions. The 50th anniversary of The Australian offers a timely opportunity to examine how fairly and accurately the national daily newspaper has reported on its parent company's strengths and weaknesses, and those of its commercial rivals, as well as covering overall trends in the media industry. The article argues that when The Australian's Media section began in 1999, it substantially expanded for readers the available range of news and views about the media. However, the section never reached its advertising revenue targets and in recent years has lost much of the revenue it once had Over the past decade, the section has become increasingly narrow-minded in the range of its coverage, tone and approach.
Article
FranklinBob. Newszak and News Media. London: Arnold; dist. by St. Martin's Press, New York, N.Y. 1997. Pp. xi, 307. $19.95 paper. ISBN 0-340-61416-1. - Volume 30 Issue 4 - D. L. LeMahieu
To understand ‘Brexit’, look to Britain’s tabloids
  • K Bennhold
Election results: here's how the 2016 figures stack up historically
  • C Blumer
Blumer C (2016) Election results: here's how the 2016 figures stack up historically. ABC News, 4 July. Available at: www.abc.net.au/news (accessed 11 November 2017).
Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (with the assistance of Matthew Ricketson)
  • R Finkelstein
Finkelstein R (2012) Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (with the assistance of Matthew Ricketson). Canberra, ACT, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia.
What do Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have in common? The Guardian
  • D Shariatmadari
Shariatmadari D (2015) What do Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump have in common? The Guardian, 18
Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch
  • N Davies
Davies N (2014) Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch. London: Chatto & Windus.
The narrow agenda: how the news media covered the referendum
  • D Deacon
  • J Downer
  • E Harker
Deacon D, Downer J, Harker E, et al. (2016) The narrow agenda: how the news media covered the referendum. In: Jackson D, Thorsen E and Wring D (eds) EU Referendum Analysis 2016: Media, Voters and the Campaign. England: Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community, Bournemouth University. Available at: https://meandeurope.com/wp-content/uploads/EU-Referendum-Analysis-2016-Jackson-Thorsen-and-Wring-v2.pdf (accessed: 12 January 2018)
The Australian’s media supplement: a lapdog, a watchdog, an attack dog or all of the above?
UK Press Coverage of the EU Referendum
  • D Levy
  • B Asian
  • B Bironzo
Levy D, Asian B and Bironzo B (2016) UK Press Coverage of the EU Referendum. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty
  • Tdc Roberts
Roberts TDC (2015) Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty. Brisbane, QLD, Australia: University of Queensland Press.
News consumption, political knowledge and political efficacy
  • R Tiffen
  • D Rowe
  • S Coen
Tiffen R, Rowe D, Coen S, et al. (2017) News consumption, political knowledge and political efficacy. In: Griffen-Foley B and Scalmer S (eds) Public Opinion, Campaign Politics & Media Audiences: New Australian Perspectives. Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Melbourne University Press, pp. 208-242.
From Callaghan to Credit Crunch: Changing Trends in British Television News
  • S Barnett
  • I Gaber
  • G Ramsey
Barnett S, Gaber I and Ramsey G (2012) From Callaghan to Credit Crunch: Changing Trends in British Television News 1975-2009. London: University of Westminster.
James Murdoch hits out at BBC and regulators at Edinburgh TV festival. The Guardian, 29 August
  • J Robinson
Robinson J (2009) James Murdoch hits out at BBC and regulators at Edinburgh TV festival. The Guardian, 29 August. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2009/aug/28/james-murdoch-bbc-mactaggart-edinburgh-tv-festival (accessed 13 January 2018)
To understand 'Brexit', look to Britain's tabloids. The New York Times
  • K Bennhold
Bennhold K (2017) To understand 'Brexit', look to Britain's tabloids. The New York Times, 3 May. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/world/europe/london-tabloids-brexit.html
Disposable Leaders: Media and Leadership Coups from Menzies to Abbott
  • R Tiffen
Tiffen R (2017) Disposable Leaders: Media and Leadership Coups from Menzies to Abbott. Sydney, NSW, Australia: University of New South Wales Press.