Leadership representation in times of uncertainty: a media analysis of Gail Kelly and Ralph Norris


Liu, Helena


The emergence of the global financial crisis has become a critical subject, dominating the media and shaping the way that Australian business leaders are portrayed and seek to have themselves portrayed. Demand for leaders who can efficiently and effectively navigate their organisation through such a period of uncertainty has paved the way for new bodies of leadership theory, proposing desirable and/or necessary qualities of leadership in critical times, such as authenticity. In the Australian business environment in particular, chief executives within the banking and finance industries have received the most media scrutiny as they personify their industries, enhancing the newsworthiness of the global financial crisis's impact on the Australian economy. This paper begins with an exploration of how Australia's economy has been framed by the media by comparing two articles written before and after August 2008, identified as the specific period of which the media began constructing the notion of a global financial crisis. After the media's portrayal of the economic context before and after August 2008 is gauged, the analysis will proceed by examining three articles of Gail Kelly of Westpac and three of Ralph Norris of Commonwealth Bank from before and during the crisis. The method addresses the practice in the media to extend beyond the confines of written text and employ visual devices in addition to the linguistic to convey meaning. As a consequence, the readings of the media texts will encompass the visual elements of layout design and photography in its interpretation of leadership portrayal.

Publication year


Publication type

Conference paper


Tilts and shifts, applying a discourse analysis lens, the 2nd New Zealand Discourse Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 18-20 November 2009


Auckland University of Technology


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