The Larrikin Paradox: ‘Irresponsibility’ as a Frame of Reference for Journalistic ‘Responsibility’ in Western Liberal Democracy

By Josie Vine.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Australia often claims a national self-identity based on a tradition described as ‘larrikin’. ‘The Larrikin Paradox’ explores the nexus between ‘larrikin’ and Enlightenment-informed normative theories relating to journalism’s public responsibility in Western liberal democracy. With its connotations of irresponsibility, ‘larrikin’ has more often than not been considered as an inappropriate frame of reference through which to conceptualise journalism’s public role. Yet, paradoxically, ‘The Larrikin Paradox’ theorizes, it is the larrikin’s capacity for irresponsibility that gives him, or her, the potential to be an enacting agent of journalism’s public responsibility.

Indeed, throughout Australian journalism history, ‘larrikins’ have facilitated and protected democratic freedom in the public sphere. Yet, because this freedom is in a constant state of vulnerability, contemporary journalism, in Australia and elsewhere, could use the ‘larrikin’ to vouchsafe a work culture capable of maintaining its self-declared responsibility to, in the words of Australian journalism’s professional association, ‘inform citizens’ and ‘animate democracy’ (Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Available: httpp://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.htm/, accessed July 3, 2009).

Keywords: Democracy, Australian History, Journalism, Larrikinism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.271-284. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 639.083KB).

Dr. Josie Vine

Journalism Lecturer, Journalism Department, School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr. Josie Vine has taught at RMIT University since 2005. Previously teaching journalism at Deakin University, Geelong, Josie has taught in tertiary journalism education since 2001. Josie’s background is in print journalism, as well as media liaison in a public relations capacity. Her research interests include: the role of the country press; news-room practice and journalism history. She completed her PhD, researching the ‘larrikin’ culture of Australian journalism, in February 2009.

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