A plenary session on representation was held at the 2016 NEMBC Conference. Executive Officer of the NEMBC Russell Anderson moderated the session, and he noted the rise of far right wing groups as a result of the current media representation of different minority groups. He pointed out that all of the hard work by ethnic groups can be undone by a radio shock jock and social cohesion can be shattered as a result.
Executive Officer of the NEMBC Russell Anderson
Clayde Sharady, CEO of African Media Australia shared his experiences after arriving in Australia from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He noted that when he was watching TV he criticised the depictions of Africa, as the Africa he grew up in and knew was not represented. He also stressed the misrepresentation of the African community in the media, particularly with coverage of the Apex gangs in Melbourne, resulting in this discourse affecting things such as employment opportunities for members of this community.
Sharady cited a recent study showing how the media can improve representation of minority groups, including:
- Recruiting more journalists of multicultural background
- Having a Multicultural Diversity Officer employed in all media outlets
- Training current journalists on diversity and how to better engage with ethnic communities
- Having the media engage with minority groups about how they work to improve relationships between the two
Clayde Sharady, CEO of African Media Australia
Dr John Budarick, Department of Media at the University of Adelaide spoke about the social capital which is necessary for cohesion between the media and minority groups. He pointed out the fact that history is repeating itself when it comes to the media representation of migrants over the years, and that journalists are part of wider ideological view of migrants. He states that ethnic media provides a connection between different groups and helps them overcome their difficulties. The three pillars of social capital were presented as:
- Bonding – Relationships between co-ethnic groups
- Bridging – Relationships between different groups
- Linking – Relationships between wider social and political organisations and processes
Dr John Budarick, Department of Media at the University of Adelaide
Dr Tanja Dreher, ARC Future Fellow, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong stated that the last few weeks politically have been tumultuous in terms of the discussion of race. In 1990 two royal commissions (Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and National Inquiry into Racial Violence) found trends and impacts in media representation, including a climate which racial violence and discrimination is tolerated or enabled. Dreher mentioned the evolution of digital media which are providing a better approach to representation, including sites such as The Guardian and Buzzfeed.
She concluded her speech emphasising that employment and training in media editorial positions are important. Furthermore, a ‘whole of organisation’ approach is needed for this to happen.
Dr Tanja Dreher, ARC Future Fellow, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, University of Wollongong
Michele Fonseca, Head Strategy and Staff Development and manages the Diversity Working Groups at the ABC discussed the work that is being done at the ABC to diversify their news room. She recounted being mistaken for another journalist of ethnic background when she was a news anchor in the early 90s. She notes that the news room had little diversity in the 1960s and it permeates today. In 2014 a study was conducted by the ABC to confirm the overall gender and ethnic representation of their news room employees as well as people who were interviewed by them after reviewing over 335 hours of interview footage from outlets such as TV and radio. The study concluded that Anglo-Saxon males were heavily represented, however Fonseca did state that there are trends showing that this is changing.
Michele Fonseca, Head Strategy and Staff Development and manages the Diversity Working Groups at the ABC