Talanoa and Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action: Journalistic Practices in the Tropical Pacific
Keywords:journalism, South Pacific, Tropics, talanoa, parachute journalism, Theory of Communicative Action
Western journalism educators can learn from Pacific island communication
practices to improve ways of sharing knowledge across the tropics. Often Western journalists reporting on events in the tropics do so through a lens of parachute journalism. This paper analyses current Western journalism and communication practices in the Pacific and draws on concepts relevant to general communication such as talanoa and Habermas’s ‘Theory of Communicative Action’ (1989). Three key points are argued in this paper: firstly, that traditional communication practices in the South Pacific and Pacific region more generally, are alive, well, and highly relevant to Western journalistic practice; secondly, that parachute journalism has a high potential to damage communication practices in the South Pacific; and finally, that Western journalism education should embrace concepts such as talanoa in order to be better informed in policy and knowledge-based decision making processes in the South Pacific.
As discussed through examples of the communication of issues of social justice and indigenous rights, innovative communicative approaches which take into consideration oceanic knowledge, along with applicable Western theoretical paradigms, have significance and merit for future media and communication professionals and educators.
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