"We Need More Positive Stories"

By: Ashleigh Haw  

In Australia, the issue of people seeking asylum has received widespread media attention, attracting considerable debate at both the political and community level. For people who oppose refugee resettlement in Australia, asylum seekers are routinely constructed as illegal immigrants (Every and Augoustinos, 2008; Pedersen, et al, 2006; Clyne, 2005; Klocker 2004; Pickering, 2001), queue-jumpers (Markus and Dharmalingam, 2014; Augoustinos and Every, 2007; Pedersen, et al, 2005), and economic migrants (Saxton, 2003; Pickering, 2001). While limited, there is some empirical evidence to suggest that similar discourses are pervasive in Australian news content about asylum seekers, often mirroring political discourses that serve to justify exclusionary or punitive policies for managing asylum seekers (e.g. McKay, et al, 2011; Saxton, 2003). While some Australian research has focused on media discourses about people seeking asylum, no prior studies have explored community perspectives on how asylum seekers are portrayed by the Australian news media. This paper discusses the findings of research utilising Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1995) combined with Hall’s Audience Reception Theory (1993) to examine the perceptions of a sample Western Australians regarding news representations of people seeking asylum. The key discourses uncovered were concerned with negativity, sensationalism, and a lack of transparency in Australian news reports surrounding asylum seekers. These discourses are discussed with emphasis on the wider implications from both a research and policy perspective.

Audience, Discourses, Politics
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Ashleigh Haw

-, -, University of Western Australia, Australia

I am a final year PhD candidate in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia. My research is focused on examining community perspectives concerning Australian news discourses surrounding people seeking asylum in Australia.