All Together Now’s latest research into racialised media found more than half (57%) of race-related social commentary in Australian mainstream media negatively targets racial minorities. A copy of the report is available on the Media Monitoring page of our website.
The study, which monitored Australian mainstream media from April 2018-2019, found that social commentators express racist views in overt and covert ways, deploying a range of tactics such as dog-whistling, decontextualisation and irony to target racial minorities.
Muslim Australians were the most frequently targeted, with 63 of the 281 media pieces sampled discussing Muslims specifically. More than 80% of these pieces discussed Muslims and Islam in a negative way.
All Together Now partnered with the University of Technology, Sydney, in designing the framework used to analyse media for the report.
“The way the media represents all Australians is of critical importance,” said Jacqueline Nelson, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney. “Problematic representation of particular cultural groups, whether covert or more blatant, reinforces white dominance and can undermine a sense of belonging for those targeted.”
Most (91%) of the 159 negative race-related media pieces were published in three newspapers: the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian. Of these, the Herald Sun was the most serious offender, publishing 73 (46%) of all negative race-related pieces.
Currently, media regulatory frameworks such as the Australian Press Council’s Statement of General Principles fail to hold media agencies to account for racist and offensive content. In addition, complaints to the Australian Press Council and Free TV Australia must be made within
30 days of the first publication unless special consideration is sought.
The ongoing availability of media pieces in the internet age necessitates a reform of these complaint mechanisms to ensure that racist and offensive material can be contested at any time.
Our investigation, conducted in partnership with the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia (CIRCA), found that the majority of race-related opinion pieces were authored by people of Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds. This is despite the fact that nearly one-
quarter of Australians are from non-Anglo-Celtic or European backgrounds. The report therefore argues for greater diversity in media organisations to promote more inclusive depictions of race.
For further information about this and previous reports about racism in the media, please see the Media Monitoring page on our website.