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.
New research conducted by All Together Now and University of Technology Sydney has found that 62 opinion based reports potentially breached at least one of the media Codes of Conduct due to racism.
The full research findings are available at alltogethernow.org.au/media-monitoring.
Priscilla Brice, the Managing Director of not-for-profit organisation All Together Now said, “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, found that Muslims were mentioned in more than half of the opinion pieces, and more than twice as many times as any other single group mentioned. Of these, 63% of reports about Muslims were framed negatively.
“Anecdotally, we know that negative portrayals of Muslims in the media is having adverse effects in communities, with Muslim families (and particularly women wearing hijab or other head coverings) being victimised. All Together Now’s research provides data to show that of the highest-rated news outlets, News Corp is the primary perpetrator. News Corp has a lot of work to do to improve their editorial policies to ensure their journalists don’t target people based on their race, nationality, religion or other cultural attributes.”
The study focused on opinion-based articles published by the four most-watched current affairs TV programs, and the four most-read newspapers nationally, as determined by ratings agencies.
Currently, under some media regulations, audiences have only thirty days in which to make a complaint. The research report recommends that this deadline be removed to allow audiences to make complaints about racist media content at any time, and for the definition of racism be broadened in the Codes of Conduct to include covert forms of racism.
It also recommends that news agencies support journalists to discuss race sensitively. They can do this by providing training, recruiting more journalists of colour, and ensuring that their editorial policies are racially aware.
The full research findings are available at alltogethernow.org.au/media-monitoring.
From this time forward, under God,*
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.
* A person may choose whether or not to use the words ‘under God’.
This is the pledge that you have to take as the final step in your journey of becoming an Australian citizen, of course, unless you are born in Australia. To be eligible to take the pledge, you must prove your thorough understanding of what it means. You have to pass a test based on a document provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, titled Our Common Bond. As Australians, it is fun to skim through the document and see if we are actually true to the pledge we took either explicitly, by uttering the words, or implicitly, by being born on this land.
“We are also a young nation; a nation of migrants. European settlement in Australia began in 1788 and we continue to welcome new migrants today. People from more than 200 countries have made Australia their home.”
“Today, Australia has a population of about 22 million people. Over one quarter of these people were born overseas.”
“In Australia’s diverse society, over 200 languages are spoken.”
“People come to settle in Australia from countries all around the world. Many people have a different cultural heritage with different beliefs and traditions. In our democratic society, we are all free to follow and share these beliefs and traditions as long as they do not break Australian laws.”
“There are a number of laws in Australia that make sure a person is not treated differently to others because of their gender, race, disability or age.”
“We value this freedom and expect all Australians to treat each other with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, country of origin, gender, sexual preference, marital status, age, disability, heritage, culture, politics, wealth or religion.”
Can we all claim that we share Australian democratic beliefs; respect Australia’s rights and liberties; and uphold and obey its laws?
The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article about 7-Eleven workers of Indian descent continuing to being exploited, despite the outcry back when the exploitation was originally exposed in September 2015.
These immigrant workers were being paid as little as $16 to $0.43 per hour, and well below the minimum rate.
You have to congratulate the Australian Press for not discussing the broader issue at hand i.e. racism.
Why is racism such a taboo topic to us? Australia is still marred by its own history, the period of colonisation and assimilation, which upended the First Australians and many migrants.
Much has been said and talked about the past, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying “Sorry” to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal people. However, there is a sense of hubris here in the analogy here that once an apology to Aboriginal people, forever no more racism in Australia altogether.
The reality is very different!
Today the country now has over 40 different ethnic racial groups living inside our borders and roughly 1 in 5 Australians have experienced racism in their lives.
Enter Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister who claims to be right-progressive. For the incumbent PM I have one of my own policies: vouch for a multicultural (and intercultural) Australia.
Alongside the $1bn Innovation boom and the $1bn Clean Energy Innovation Fund, put aside some money to a government initiative: Cultural Diversity Future Fund.
The aforementioned Cultural Diversity Future Fund will be two-pronged: Firstly research into contemporary ethnic and racial issues for 22nd century Australia. And secondly, commercialising these ideas through the creation of a multicultural, intercultural Australia, which defines people based on talent, or contribution to the economy, instead of ethnicity.
A culturally diverse 22nd century Australia.
Also read: All Together Now’s Anti racism projects
Journalism and Responsibility
On Monday 22nd of February, Paul Sheehan, an Australian reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) released a double page spread about an Australian woman named Louise. She claimed to have been brutally assaulted and raped by a group of men from a specific ethnic minority group. In the article the sub-heading stated, “We’ll never know the scale of the rape epidemic in Sydney”.
Louise’s story was later shown to be fictitious.
The article was then retracted by the SMH, but the stigma associated with the ethnic minority group is likely to remain, just like the stigma has remained with refugees and asylum seekers from the “Children Overboard Scandal”. The damage created by the media is difficult to reverse.
This is because such stories conjure up horrifying images in the minds of readers and whilst reading the article, the readers believe the information that they are consuming is fact. The initial shock value of these stories has a real affect in the mind of the reader; it virtually imprints itself like an un-washable stain.
The ABC’s “Media Watch” recently investigated the SMH report and showed an Australian woman speaking at a Reclaim Australia rally at Martin Place on April 4th 2015. This was Louise telling the same story that Sheehan reported in the SMH in February 2016. To call the story “news” is debatable.
To add insult to injury in this saga, the SMH printed a small apology (of 99 words) in the bottom corner of page 2 on the following Wednesday. That’s right: the lie takes up two pages and the truth gets 99 words.
The most basic form of modern racism makes people from minority ethnic backgrounds invisible. A more sinister form of racism makes people visible through negative acts.
Even if the SMH story was true it would still be a form of racism to nominate the ethnicity of the men because it’s really not important. If the story happened to be true, then the rapists are still rapists regardless of their ethnic or cultural background.
To make any impact on achieving racial equality, journalists need to play their role: to tell real stories as they happened, and without prejudice. After all, racism stops with every single one of us.
All Together Now has created an infographic with the key findings from the 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report.
Each year the Scanlon Foundation commissions research to measure Australian attitudes on social cohesion, immigration and population issues.
The research shows the levels of racism in Australia compared to previous years. During the past year, 18% of people experienced discrimination based on skin colour, ethnic origin or religion. This is a small decrease from 19% last year, but a huge increase from 9% in 2007.
Alarmingly, 5% of people living in Australia – over 1.1 million people – experience racism at least once a month. People are most likely to experience racism in their neighbourhood, at the shopping centre, or at work.
The research also found that around 25-30% of Australians are intolerant of cultural diversity. All Together Now optimistically believes that people in this group won’t necessarily hold these intolerant beliefs for life. They tend to make racist comments because they over-estimate the number of people around them who agree with their point of view. When bystanders speak up during a racist incident, the perpetrator learns that their view is not shared by others and is less likely to say something racist in the future.
Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world. More than 1 in 4 Australians were born overseas. Let’s increase social cohesion in our country by making all Australians feel welcome. You can start improving social cohesion by speaking up when you witness racism.