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Australia – (E9) Participation

Score in short:

Though there is an increasing interaction between journalists and the public, there is no actual participation in the news process.

Score in detail:

In the traditional print media, the “Letters to the editor” is the customary feedback tool. Most Australian papers devote a page to “Letters to the editor”, to which also columns of brief emails from readers are added under the page heading of “Commentary”.

The degree of public participation, according to several interviewees, is now as high as it has ever been. one interviewee mentioned that her investigative stories were accompanied by an online forum where the public could send in comments and tips, and that the response was overwhelming and often unmanageable. Yet while there is a far greater interaction between journalists and the public than in the past, this does not amount to an actual participation in the news process.

The public broadcasters ABC and SBS have high profile programs, ‘Q & A’ and ‘Insight’, which are built on audience participation, not only of the audience in the studio but also emailed questions and twitter, with a strip of twitter comments running at the bottom of the screen. Almost 36,000 tweets were recorded in an hour in one ‘Q & A’ during the election 2010 campaign (Scott 2010). The ABC website offers two political blogs under the title of The Drum and Unleashed, which invites the public to “our rolling gabfest. Drop in, have your say.” The major newspapers have similar sites.