Finding the Fourth Estate: reporting beyond the wire



Degree Name

Master of Arts Research - Journalism


School of Creative Arts


In mainstream news a pervasive propaganda model vies for dominance over its Fourth Estate objective: to scrutinize those in power, in the public interest. The researcher’s main body of work during the project was primarily in Indigenous affairs, engaging with topics regarding the Australian justice system. The thesis addresses a dichotomy in power between authoritarian sources and minorities, unauthorized sources and those detained. It examines ways to ease individual sources’ interactions with the news gathering process, to facilitate balanced comment. Through case studies, interviews and reflexive analysis of the researcher’s own journalism, this thesis seeks to identify solutions to the obstacles encountered when freelancing. It explores how restrictions on reporting and various other challenges may be overcome to better facilitate compliance with the Fourth Estate tradition. The research trials effective techniques used by journalism experts and has produced a model that improves efficiency and productivity, while redefining and clarifying industry perceptions of impartiality and independence. The thesis includes a review of laws and policies governing media access to prisons, in response to the lack of industry knowledge about them that emerged during the research. These proscriptive restrictions generate industry timidity and recurrent prosecutions against journalists who dare to write about such matters.


This thesis is unavailable due to its continuing embargo.