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Infotainment and the Impact of ‘Connective Action’: The Case of #MilkedDry

ANZCA 2017

Infotainment and the Impact of ‘Connective Action’: The Case of #MilkedDry

Stephen Harrington, Axel Bruns, and Tim Highfield

The Project has been a successful form of political entertainment on Australian commercial television since 2009 (McNair et al., 2017). The program has been noted for its ability to blend comedy and informal discussion between panellists (who have ranged from traditional news presenters, to comedians, politicians, and ordinary viewers) with serious analysis of news of the day. Since Waleed Aly took over co-hosting duties in 2015, one of the more popular features of the program has been segments called ‘Something we should talk about’. In one of these, Aired in May 2016, called “Milked Dry”, Aly urged Australians to ‘eat more cheese’ and drink more milk to support local dairy farmers. Soon after, Australian consumers were reporting drastic shortages of locally-produced milk in supermarkets (Eriksson, 2016).

Political entertainment has often been criticised for helping to increase people’s cynicism towards the political process, thus leading to greater apathy and disengagement (Hart & Hartelius, 2007). In this paper, however, we will focus specifically on #MilkedDry, looking closely at the way in which the specific ‘call to action’ played out on key social media platforms (focussing particularly on Twitter). Through an analysis of social media data made available through TrISMA: Tracking Infrastructure for Social Media Analysis (Bruns et al., 2016), which comprehensively tracks all public tweets by some four million Australian Twitter accounts identified to date, we will also examine how the framing of this political issue was taken up at a local level, and how citizens used social media for the purposes of ‘connective action’.


Bruns, Axel, Burgess, Jean, Banks, John, Tjondronegoro, Dian, Dreiling, Alexander, Hartley, John, Leaver, Tama, Aly, Anne, Highfield, Tim, Wilken, Rowan, Rennie, Ellie, Lusher, Dean, Allen, Matthew, Marshall, David, Demetrious, Kristin, and Sadkowsky, Troy. (2016). TrISMA: Tracking Infrastructure for Social Media Analysis,

Eriksson, M. (2016). 'The Photos That Show Aussies Are Finally Supporting Our Farmers', Mamamia, 20 May,

Hart, R.P., and Hartelius, E. J. (2007). 'The Political Sins of Jon Stewart', Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 263 - 272.

McNair, B., Flew, T., Harrington, S., and Swift, A. (2017). Politics, Media and Democracy in Australia: Public and Producer Perceptions of the Political Public Sphere, Routledge: London.