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Title: Authenticity in Newspaper Coverage of Political Leaders’ Responses to Disaster: A Historical Study
Contributor(s): Williamson, Rosemary  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2019
Early Online Version: 2018-10-10
DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2018.1527712
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Abstract: The news media both report and evaluate the compassionate responses made by political leaders to communities affected by natural disaster. When these responses are viewed as performances according to Alexander’s theory of cultural pragmatics, authenticity—manifest in the display of empathy— emerges as a criterion for their evaluation by journalists. The essay traces the history of these evaluations. Taking Australia as a representative example of both western news traditions and disaster reporting, the essay provides an overview of newspaper depictions and evaluations of prime ministers’ responses to tropical cyclone from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. This reveals increasing value being placed on prime ministers being physically and emotionally engaged with Australians when disaster strikes, including through the display of palpable grief, which is aligned with the mediatization of politics and the emotional public sphere. Also revealed is a turn toward journalists reflexively expressing skepticism about such performed authenticity in a highly mediatized environment. By drawing attention to this skepticism, the essay challenges practitioners to interrogate their contribution to the ongoing evolution of disaster reporting. It also offers an empirical starting point for further studies of this aspect of disaster reporting.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journalism Studies, 20(11), p. 1511-1527
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1461-670X
Field of Research (FOR): 190301 Journalism Studies
200101 Communication Studies
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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