The role of advocacy group 350 in filling a news gap for reporting from the Pacific region
Queensland University of Technology
As new actors assert their voices into global discussions the boundaries of journalism are continuously tested and tugged at. Some, like citizen journalists and alternative community media organisations, are relatively well documented by scholars. Others, present a grey area in our understanding of who makes up the perceived ‘in club’ of journalism. One such area of emerging journalistic boundary research is about the media outputs of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose staff have traditionally been seen as sources for or stringers to journalists. Technological advances in information communications technology, increased staffing capacity and more sophisticated media strategies mean that some NGOs are now producing their own independent news as opposed to relying on journalists to tell their organisational stories. The question is, however, whether this is to be seen as more sophisticated communication strategies aimed at advocating a specific viewpoint or/and an emerging form of reporting folding into the expanding boundaries of journalism. This paper argues that one way to conceptualise advocates and NGO actors engaging in eye-witness reporting is as “Unintentional Journalists” doing the work of journalism, without intentionally meaning to do so. Following an exploratory case study of the Pacific branch of global NGO 350.org, the paper suggests that the organisation’s members who produced reports about the passing of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, 2015, intended to produce advocacy and in doing so, unintentionally acted to fill a global news gap for reporting from the Pacific region.
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