The original message on the ‘paradigm of prevention’, which obliges government to address the emergency from terrorism, was first coined by former US Attorney General John Ashcroft. Soon after, Australian Prime Minister of the day John Howard was to follow Ashcroft’s call. The new Labor government in 2007 deployed a fresh strategy: ‘the precautionary principle’ where government justifies further intrusive measures to confront the emergencies of climate change. This silent messaging as placed in the news media, by inclusion or omission of certain facts, can be traced and exposed to reveal a quietly agreed process to influence the public to imagine the worst without solid evidence. While such hidden messages will continue to shape public opinion and cause obfuscation, journalism educators can develop learning experiences so their students can notice the detail. This paper explores how journalism educators can work with the realities of the news media, which fan public fear of imagined catastrophes on behalf of governments. Students can very quickly learn to join the dots through meticulous discourse analysis coupled with simple computer assisted research - something the compliant mainstream news media seems unable to apply in its normative role as a ‘watchdog’ of government.
Recommended CitationBlackall, David and Tenkate, Seth, Anti-terrorism, climate change and ‘dog whistle’ journalism: Restraints on the public right to know, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 20, 2010, 203-216.