Weeding Out Cannabis Representations: Politics, Practice, and Informing the 2020 Referendum Debate
Political documentaries have consistently used long-standing journalistic forms and practices to inform public sphere debate. Information is relayed to documentary publics using claims, cues and representations through a blend of documentary and journalistic practices. In Weeding Out Cannabis Representations: Politics, Practice, and Informing the 2020 Referendum Debate, I examine two documentary case studies, On Weed and Grassroots, to investigate the extent to which producers employ filtering and framing practices to represent opinions on the 2020 NZ Cannabis Referendum. Using textual analysis, I evaluate the representation of these opinions through contemporary docu-journalism practices, primarily in the areas of sourcing and distribution. I demonstrate that traditional sourcing practices are used to represent a variety of perspectives, whilst alternative sourcing and online distribution practices service counter-perspectives, both of which are used to inform the publics of political documentaries. In response to these practices, the role of the presenter fluctuates, at times deviating from the objective traditions of journalism and diving into the realm of political advocacy. With both traditional and alternative practices presenting opportunities to inform the publics of political documentaries, I expand on Holt et al.’s continuum of media practices, recognizing that an alternative/traditional dichotomy is outdated. Instead, I present that both ‘traditional’ and ‘alternative’ political documentaries display an increasing blend of practices in the contemporary political landscape.