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Aug 27 2020

N&MRC Seminar: "Analysing innovation in Indigenous journalism: Deaths Inside" - Associate Professor David Nolan

Abstract - This presentation uses an analysis to reflect on how to better understand innovation as a process enabled by, and responsive to, new possibilities, demands and challenges facing journalism in particular contexts, and argue for a particular normative definition of the concept. In 2018, The Guardian won the award for Innovation at the Walkleys, Australia’s most prestigious awards for journalism, a category introduced in 2017 to encourage experimentation while upholding traditional journalistic values of strong storytelling, accuracy and ethics. The winning data journalism project, Deaths Inside, catalogues 149 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody between 2008 and 2019. This article focuses on Deaths Inside to critically consider the role of ‘innovation’ in the transforming relations that constitute journalism. In doing so, it approaches innovation as a discourse that forms part of the sociotechnical relations through which transformations in journalism are both constituted and understood, which both enable and delimit change. Situating its analysis through an account of how the industrial and cultural landscape of Australian journalism has changed in recent years, it develops a qualitative textual analysis of metajournalistic accounts of the genesis of the project presented by The Guardian, and of the textual presentation and technical design of Deaths Inside. In doing so, I highlight the changing relations that have contributed to the development of Deaths Inside; how these have afforded an expansion of the field of Indigenous journalism; and how, in both form and content, Deaths Inside took advantage of opportunities to challenge established traditions and formats of Indigenous news representation. Drawing on critical debates surrounding innovation, I argue that Deaths Inside can be considered ‘innovative’ not simply because it takes advantage of the enhanced affordances of digital technologies for developing experimental forms of journalism, but because it delivers an enhanced social value that builds upon possibilities for improved representation that processes of transformation have enabled.

12:30 - 13:30
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