Promoting a promotional culture: a case study of the Junior Franklin County News
Johnson, RJK; Bieldt, N
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Although the extraordinary level of commercial speech in New Zealand media is relatively commonly acknowledged (see, for instance, Bell, 1995, Campbell, 2000, Hope, 1996, Horrocks, 2004, Lealand, 2002, Thompson, 2003, Watts, 2009), there is very little academic work that focuses on this commercial speech in its own right. Particularly emblematic case studies, like Xenical (Johnson & Hope, 2001), peculiarly successful forms of advertising, like the infomercial (Johnson & Hope, 2004, Johnson, 2013), or persistent trends in policy like unfettered neoliberalism (Thompson, 2011), allow for a wider, more critical perspective. To date, however, there has been little, if any, research into the lived experience of people as they negotiate this increasingly commercialised media culture. This article aims to investigate one aspect of that experience by focusing on the Junior Franklin County News, an annual insert into a community newspaper. We will argue that the insert, by being produced by primary school students, offers a real insight into their conception of ‘advertising’, ‘newspapers’ and the inter-relationship between the two. It will show that the commercial media’s contemporary ‘infomercial’ focus can deployed by children through relatively sophisticated techniques and will conclude by arguing for more clarity and precision when teaching children about the ‘doing’ of media.