Revelation, Reckoning and Recovery: Bearing Witness Proximally in Local Journalism: Revelation, Reckoning and Recovery

Kerry Mccallum, Lisa Waller, Alanna Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

At a time when local journalism is under threat, regional newsrooms can play a crucial role in working with communities to confront shameful truths and profound failures. The regional city of Ballarat emerged as an “epicentre” of clergy sexual abuse through Australia’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013–2017). This article examines how the regional city’s newspaper, The Courier, bore witness to these crimes and their impacts within its local community. A content and thematic analysis of coverage of child sexual abuse from 2010 to 2019 documents how The Courier’s locally produced journalism revealed to its audience the extent of abuse, helping to acknowledge and face crimes that had occurred in Ballarat’s local institutions. The interlinked themes of revelation, reckoning and recovery demonstrate how local journalism can work with its community to address traumatic events that occur within its geosocial space. Local media bore witness on multiple levels, as both the amplifier of stories told by survivors and the facilitator of community processes of reckoning and recovery. We refer to this special form of local journalism as “proximal” media witnessing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1193
Number of pages18
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume24
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023

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