If you thought Andrew Bolt was the only perpetrator of bigotry in mainstream media, you’re sadly mistaken.
A new study has uncovered at least 62 opinion-based reports believed to breach one or more Codes of Conduct due to racist rhetoric.
Compiled by the independent, not-for-profit organisation All Together Now and University of Technology Sydney, the 28-page report is titled ‘Social commentary, racism and COVID-19: a case study on opinion pieces in Australian mainstream newspapers.’
Says Priscilla Brice, All Together Now Managing Director: ‘Among the publications we tracked during this six-month study, negative portrayals of race were most frequently published on News Corp’s online newspapers Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Herald Sun.’
The research conducted between January to July this year analysed 315 opinion pieces, and not only from News Corp.
Outlets studies included The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Project and the ABC’s 7.30. However, the Herald Sun was found to display overwhelming racial bias, with 90% of articles analysed portraying minorities in a negative light. In particularly, Muslim peoples, Chinese and Chinese Australian peoples and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The report expressed a growing concern for Asian and Asian-Australian people in particular, who experienced various forms of racism as a result of coronavirus coverage.
Importantly, the study identified five key ways in which anti-Asian racism is mobilised in social commentary. These were irony, harmful stereotypes, fallacies, intertextuality and scaremongering.
Hardly the kind of techniques equated with fair and accurate reporting.
Because while Mavens believes in free press, our media has a responsibility to represent all people equitably, not based on race, gender, ability, sexuality or otherwise. This report has proved that there are publications failing seriously in this area.
Not only that, there is a damaging lack of diverse representation: 100% of national news directors in Australia are men of Anglo-Celtic background (Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories? Media Diversity Australia, 2020).
News media plays an enormous role in shaping the zeitgeist. And with the Australian bushfires, global pandemic and US election all in the space of one year, discourse and opinion content has increased in reach and influence.
Now, we have two former PMs calling for a royal commission into Murdoch’s News Corp: Kevin Rudd (labour) and Malcolm Turnbull (liberal). Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has also secured a Senate enquiry to probe media diversity in Australia.
With both sides of government united in their concern, and statistics like those found in this report, it’s time we paused and reflected on what we want our mediascape to look like.