ARTICLE: Indigenous media producers are often torn between professional obligations and meeting community responsibilities

Picture: Aboriginal orbits by Caneles, license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In their work Indigenous media producers navigate tensions between professional obligations and responsibility towards their communities. Over the course of 12 years, Elizabeth Burrows of Griffith University, interviewed 42 Indigenous media producers from Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand about their views on professional norms.

16 of the interviewed media producers had formal journalism qualifications, 14 had undertaken ‘on-the-job’ training, and the rest did not identify as journalists.

Based on to the interviews, Burrows finds that most Indigenous media producers value and uphold a modified version of objectivity. With this objectivity they seek “to produce factual, truthful content while acknowledging and meeting community responsibilities that demand their connection and commitment to community needs.”

Even though Indigenous media do demonstrate bias, they argue that they offer a counterbalance to mainstream media’s exclusion of Indigenous voices. In this context, impartiality is an impractical goal: community connections make impartiality impossible. The producers prioritize their audience and employ horizontal production practices to ensure that their audience feels connected to ‘their’ media.

“Indigenous media are complex, multifaceted media with roles that extend beyond democratic functions and provide essential communication mechanisms for Indigenous peoples”, the author concludes.

The article “Indigenous media producers’ perspectives on objectivity, balancing community responsibilities and journalistic obligations” was published in Media, Culture & Society and is available on the publisher’s website (free abstract).

Picture: Aboriginal orbits by Caneles, license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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