Framing The Voice: How The Australian and Guardian Australia reported on the constitutional referendum

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper examines media coverage by The Australian and Guardian Australia in the lead up to the 2023 Australian Indigenous Voice referendum, which asked voters to approve an alteration to the Constitution to install an advisory body to make representations to the Parliament and executive government on matters relating to Indigenous Australians. By using framing analysis (Entman 2007, 2010; Matthes and Kohring, 2008) and by focussing on key milestones throughout the campaign, we explore how Guardian Australia and The Australian promoted specific interpretations of key aspects and issues related to The Voice. Despite the popularity of social media, established news media are still the most trusted sources of information in Australia (Flew et al., 2020) and therefore play a pivotal role in disseminating (or restricting) a diversity of views and framing important issues for a broad audience. We chose these two national outlets to evaluate how the traditionally centre-right Australian and the centre-left Guardian Australia applied the principle of objectivity in their reporting. While our initial results indicate that both outlets' early reporting on the Voice took a rather balanced approach, our ongoing analysis will reveal whether editorial positions narrowed over the course of the campaign, whose positions were covered the most, and how potential shifts in the coverage and framing of The Voice relate to key political milestones in the lead up to the referendum.
Period22 Nov 2023
Event titleAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) Conference 2023: Ka mua, ka muri: Bridging Communication Pasts and Futures
Event typeConference
LocationWellington, New ZealandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational