Session: The Politics of Language and Discourse

Globalization and Culture Stream


Day 1, Parallel Session 1B: 1:30pm – 3:00pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Lower Lecture Theatre, Level 1, Room 1

Chair: Associate Professor Chris Hudson (RMIT University)


Mandy OakhamMandy Oakham

Antonio CastilloAntonio Castillo



‘He Said, She Said’: The Challenges to Modern Journalistic Practice in Covering Climate Change

  • Presenters: Dr Mandy Oakham (RMIT University, main author) and Dr Antonio Castillo (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: Media coverage of climate change and associated issues is clearly a fiercely contested ideological site. Specially the Australian context has been used by Murdoch owned media to attempt to establish a hegemonic dominance of the public discourse in relation to this issue, while at the same time securing other business and editorial objectives.  This paper examines the challenges faced by journalists who cover this issue invoking professional notions of fairness and balance. Further this paper will question how it is that within the profoundly complex modern newsmaking context, notions of professional autonomy, and editorial freedom and self-censorship are managed, incorporated and resolved.  The authors of this paper will turn to traditional Marxian theory, specifically his theory of dialectical change and kernels of contradiction, as well as revisiting Gramsci’s notions of hegemony to unpack modern editorial processes, particularly focusing on journalism practices and their ability to react to economic, as well as moral imperatives.  This paper will draw on the work of US scholar Jay Rosen and his theory of “he said, she said” journalism practice to assess whether Australian journalists have compromised themselves in the nature of their practice which builds symmetry between two sides of an argument, while placing themselves in the middle of polarised viewpoints and thereby negating any objectives of fairness and balance.
  • Co-Author: Dr Antonio Castillo (RMIT University)
  • About Mandy: Mandy Oakham has been a senior journalist and columnist in Australia and the United Kingdom and is research leader in the RMIT journalism program. Mandy has acted as a consultant to the Australian government and leading news organisations in both the United Kingdom (developing a professional training course for the Argus newspaper group) and in Australia (assisting in the development of The Age’s traineeship program) and she continues to act as an advisor to the Victorian Country Press Association. She is the editor of the book Don’t Bury the Lead and is a co-author of Reporting in a Multi Media World.
  • About Antonio: Antonio Castillo, PhD, is a journalist and Senior Lecturer at RMIT University. Previously he worked at Hong Kong Baptist University, in Hong Kong. He teaches, researches and writes about international news. Dr Castillo is one of the founding editors of Global Media Journal, Australian edition (GMJ). He is also part of the editorial committee of the Iberian and Latin American Studies Journal (JILAR). As a journalist, he has worked in news wire services, magazines, newspapers and radio. He is the author of Journalism in the Chilean Transition to Democracy, published in 2009. He is also the co-author of Cosmopolitan Sydney and Looking Both Ways: Western Sydney and the Media. Antonio is also the author of Testigos Molestos (Undesirable Witnesses, CEDIC 1983), published in Spanish. He is currently researching a book on reportage. 
Joseph Comer Language, Hatred, (In)humanity: Linguistic Diversity and Discourse as an Instrument of Oppression

  • Presenter and main author: Joseph Comer (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: This presentation explores the means by which language, humanity’s greatest skill and most valuable resource, is used as a ‘political tool’. Language is instrumental in the entrenchment of political ideologies, achievement of political outcomes, and in the marginalisation, discrimination, and dehumanisation of minority and indigenous communities. The essential functions of language, representation and communication, determine forms that are used to determine our identity and sociocultural affiliation.    This presentation examines the symbolic power of language (cf. Bourdieu 1977; 1984; 1990; 1991), with a focus on nationalistic fervour, and the conflicts that arise from the imagination of community (Anderson 1991). Examples show that the formation of nation-states in postcolonial contexts and conflict-ridden zones relies upon an imagining of axiomatic boundaries where there are solely indiscrete divides. Processes of linguistic abstraction and construction, characterised here as ‘scaffolding’, inculcate and strengthen social divides. These processes direct the means by which individuals interpret the fictions underscoring the national, ethnic, and other affiliations they hold. Language fulfills and is fulfilled by society. Understanding how linguistic frames influence the politics of nations, nationalism and culture is essential to the development of a world that celebrates unity in diversity, and is hospitable to all of its citizens.
  • About the presenter: Joseph Comer holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in linguistics from La Trobe University and a Master of Social Science (International Development) with Distinction from RMIT University. Joe’s research interests lie at the locus of theories of language, culture and cognition, political science, and international development (particularly participatory approaches to community development). In future, Joe aims to explore questions regarding the role of language (particularly indigenous languages) and culture in the development of effective and equitable policy, amid the challenges of a rapidly globalising and (some would say) homogenising world.
José G Vargas-Hernández Yoremes of Sinaloa and their Inclusion in the Information Society

  • Presenter and main author: Professor José G Vargas-Hernández (University of Guadalajara)
  • Abstract: This presentation analyzes from the point of view socio-intercultural the juxtaposition of the Yoreme ethno region with the information society. From the many dimensions of the information rhetoric, at least three of them describe not only the asymmetries, but the asynchronies that when considering the time are present between the reality of the people Yoreme Mayo of Sinaloa and global aspirations. These dimensions are: 1) the linguistic rights of indigenous communities in the new context of acceptance of ethnic and cultural diversity, 2) promotion of new policies on access to public information, and 3) the global aspirations of forming an information and knowledge society with the use of New Technologies of Information and Communication (NTIC). It is proposed in this presentation that the interaction of these three dimensions results in a large gap with the objectives set by the major national and global organizations that have staked the intercultural future of humanity and the information society. Keywords: Public policy, information society, population Yoreme May.
  • Co-Authors: Dr Ernesto Guerra García (Universidad Autónoma Indígena de Mexico) and Dr Fortunato Ruiz Martínez (Universidad Pedagógica Nacional)
  • About the presenter: Professor José G. Vargas-Hernández is a member of the National System of Researchers of Mexico and a research professor at University Center for Economic and Managerial Sciences, University of Guadalajara. Professor Vargas-Hernández has been a Visiting Scholar at IURD-UCBerkeley and has a PhD in Public Administration and a PhD in Economics.  He has undertaken studies in Organisational Behaviour and has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Commercial Relations.  Professor Vargas-Hernández has received awards from AGBA Distinguished Scholar (2011), Emerald/EMRBI Business Research Award (2010-2011), Global Strategic Management, Inc., Washington, D.C. (2009), Academia de Ciencias Administrativas, México (2007), Global Business and Economic Development (2004), and Allies Academies, International Business Academy (2002).