Mediating Publicness: An Analysis of Pacific Audiences’ Desire for a Sphere of their Own in Aotearoa/New Zealand
This paper suggests that Pacific groups are positioned narrowly in New Zealand publicness, often in ways that run counter to Pacific audiences’ demand for in-depth news and information and public debate. Focus groups held with Pacific audiences at several urban centres in New Zealand found that Pacific news media are a key site of Pacific people’s publicness in New Zealand. Audiences looked to Pacific media (and, interestingly, Māori media) to fulfil their expectations for timely, in-depth and high-quality journalism, and for a space in which their communities could safely discuss issues and enact their citizenship. However, it is clear that more could be done to realise this role, not just on the part of Pacific media producers, but also funders and policy makers whose focus on Pacific media in terms of ethnicity and culture tends to overlook audiences’ demand for in-depth news and debate. This paper concludes that viewing ethnic media within categories of ethnicity or culture (as do funders, scholars and, often, media producers) risks both exaggerating the ‘otherness’ of ethnic minority groups and overlooking Pacific audiences’ media needs in terms of their participation in society. Instead, it suggests, policy-makers and funders could do more to recognise the journalistic and public sphere roles of the Pacific news media they fund.
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