Many forms of talkback help  build communities, social cohesion and identity formation, according to some recent research.

Following on from my post about the things we need to learn from talk-back radio, I have been contacted by Julie Posetti of the University of Canberra, who with Jacqui Ewart (Griffith Uni) has been researching Australian talkback radio for the past 12 months as part of a federally funded project. You can read about the project here.

The research is based on an examination of 12 stations in four states conducted through discussion groups with callers and listeners as well as interviews with about 30 presenters and producers.: Posetti says the results show that many forms of talkback “defy shock-jockery and its divisive effects.”

The positive shows include talk back on ABS, SBS and community stations, but also commercial shows led by journalism-oriented presenters, she says.

“We’ve also identified the role of talkback as the original form of Citizen Journalism and web 2.0 social media (Facebook and Twitter with voice!) and its capacity to build new, younger audiences through engagement with blogging, online social networking and other tech., spelling a future for radio.”

The research is in the process of being published. You can hear what Posetti told Radio National’s Media Report and SBS here and here.

Posetti says:

“By way of aside, the trigger for this research was the role of talkback in the Cronulla Riots and its place in a culturally diverse society. But when we referenced research on Alan Jones’ role in this context, Department of Immigration bureaucrats connected with the project attempted to ‘censor’ our work Further evidence of the enduring power of Jones and the political significance of talkback, perhaps. But, as our research indicates, he may be a talkback dinosaur and the future of talkback is rich in potential.”

She promises to keep us informed.

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