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TO FAIR AND CROSS CULTURAL REPORTING ALL-MEDIA GUIDE TO FAIR AND CROSS CULTURAL REPORTING

Authors:
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TO FAIR AND CROSS-
CULTURAL REPORTING
ALL-MEDIA GUIDE
TO FAIR AND CROSS-
CULTURAL REPORTING
Stephen Stockwell and Paul Scott
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A ‘nuts and bolts’ handbook on cross-cultural media
work in Australia, covering …
ethnic communities
indigenous Australia
finding contacts
effective cross-cultural communication
relevant legislation and codes of practice
MEAA code of ethics
The All-Media Guide to Fair and Cross-Cultural
Reporting is a useful day-to-day tool for dealing with
the practicalities of media work among the diverse
communities and people of Australia.
Stephen Stockwell has worked as a journalist for
4ZZZ, JJJ and Four Corners. He presently teaches
at Griffith University. Paul Scott has worked as
a producer and documentary maker. He presently
teaches at The University of Newcastle.
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ALL-MEDIA GUIDE
TO FAIR AND
CROSS-CULTURAL
REPORTING
For journalists, program makers
and media students
Stephen Stockwell
Griffith University
and
Paul Scott
The University of Newcastle
Published by Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy
Griffith University Nathan Q. 4111
Copyright © Stephen Stockwell and Paul Scott
First published 2000
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted
in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of Stephen Stockwell and Paul Scott.
National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication entry
Stockwell, Stephen 1954- and Scott, Paul 1961-
All-media guide to fair and cross-cultural reporting
ISBN 0 86857 988 2
1. Journalistic ethics – Australia. 2. Mass media policy
Australia. 3. Australia – Cultural policy.
302.23
Illustrated by Max Bannah, Peter Lewis and Cathy Wilcox
Designed by Gordon Shears
Set in 11/12 Palatino
Printed and bound in Australia by Coastal Printing Services,
Burleigh Heads, Queensland.
This project is supported by the Living in Harmony initiative
of the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and
Multicultural Affairs.
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Contents
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .What is a fair go? 1
2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accuracy 3
3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Balance 4
4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ethical Awareness 6
5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cross-Cultural Competence 10
6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Racism 12
7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Racial Vilification/Hatred Acts 14
8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Industry Codes of Practice 16
9 . . . . . . . . Finding Contacts in a Diverse Society 18
10 . . . . . Effective Cross-Cultural Communication 21
11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Covering Ethnic Communities 23
12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aboriginality 28
13 . . . . . . . . Indigenous Australians and Diversity 30
14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Covering Indigenous Australia 31
Appendix – Self-Regulation Codes . . . . . . . . . 38
Further Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
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Acknowledgments
Many thanks to Meredith Austin, Lester Bostock, Rubena
Colbey, Huda Granfar, Michael Meadows and Lynette
Sheridan Burns for their useful comments, to Bevan
Bache for his research assistance and to our partners,
Ann Baillie and Sharon Scott, for their support, patience
and understanding.
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Preface
At different times and in different situations, almost all sections
of the media are decried as unfair. The constant complaint is that
the media wields power, or at least influence, with casual regard
for truth, objectivity and the impact of media work on the lives
of people. Media workers agree on very little other than the need
to be quick in getting news to the public and the need to protect
sources in the process, so it is little wonder that the notion of fair
reporting is subject to constant debate. The All-Media Guide to Fair
and Cross-Cultural Reporting seeks to make a practical contribution
to this discussion.
Almost no one likes to be considered unfair or racist, and media
workers who inflict unfair treatment are rarely aware of the harm
their work may cause. They are surprised, and sometimes offended,
by community criticism. Usually, they don’t set out to deliberately
malign people or damage their lives, but the pressures of deadlines,
inadequate resources and understaffing mean that short cuts are
inevitably taken.
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Unfair treatment is not confined to overt words or actions that derive
from malicious intent. It can result from unconscious prejudices and
preconceptions, and these can affect a story idea, image, angle or
portrayal. The consequences of unfair treatment in a story can have
a considerable impact not only on the victims, but also on the media
workers responsible. Consider how it feels to be:
the journalist who copies a police description of a suspect into
a report that results in a mosque burning down and the bashing
of innocent people
the documentary-maker who uses file footage of a now deceased
indigenous person and causes intense emotional pain for grieving
relatives
the TV script writer who uses a racial stereotype to solve a plot
problem but alienates a section of the show’s audience and loses
a sponsor.
Both the National Inquiry into Racist Violence and the Royal Commission
into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody found that the media in Australia
play an unintended but significant role in creating and maintaining
intolerance and prejudice based on race. The All-Media Guide to
Fair and Cross-Cultural Reporting combats that tendency with a
straightforward account of how to report cross-cultural issues
fairly, combined with some practical tips to covering the diverse
communities and individuals in Australian society.
Media workers also confront a diverse range of laws, protocols,
standards and codes introduced by governments, instrumentalities,
self-regulatory bodies, non-government organisations and individual
corporations in an attempt to ensure that media work is responsible
and fair to all. Faced with a tricky decision and a tight deadline,
who among us can wade through all that material and decide the
fairest, most effective course of action in a particular story? The
All-Media Guide to Fair and Cross-Cultural Reporting provides ready
reference to the legislation, guidelines and codes where the formal
responsibilities of media workers reside.
This guide is a practical tool for media workers involved with the
representation of the diverse communities and people of Australia.
It will help all media workers reach high standards of accuracy,
balance, fairness, and relevance in the difficult area of cross-cultural
reporting.
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What is a fair go?
The notion of a ‘fair go’ is deeply entrenched in the egalitarian
traditions of the Australian nation. It is significant that this notion
was popularised by an entertainer from a non-English speaking
background, Roy ‘Mo Macachie’ Rene through his catch phrase
‘fair go, mob’.
While a positive aspect of the Australian psyche, the fair go is
a vague notion capable of distortion under pressure. It is used
to argue both for and against social policy initiatives designed to
address inequality.
The pursuit of fairness is a key professional practice for media
workers because it cuts across interminable debates about the
existence of truth, objectivity and facts. The practice of fairness
allows media workers to get on with the job of assuring that their
work has a high degree of accuracy, balance and ethical awareness.
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To guarantee these things in Australia’s diverse culture means
that media workers also need a high degree of cross-cultural
competence.
By getting the story right, by getting the full story, by carefully
considering who may benefit from and who may be harmed by
the story, by seeking to understand and explain the implications of
cultural difference, media workers have a framework to consider
whether the story is fair and how it might be made fairer.
References to race or ethnicity need not be unfair or racist, as
both can have relevance in stories. But reliance on irrelevant
stereotypes, inserted in an unexplored and unexplained manner,
leaves the audience with a story that singles out a person’s
race or ethnicity for no apparent reason and no useful purpose.
Historically, racial identifiers have been used to manufacture
resentment against ‘other’ racial and ethnic groups for base
political purposes.
Within a diverse society such as ours, it is not unfair nor
racist to report cultural differences that produce news. But to
do so effectively, media workers need to develop cross-cultural
competency and an appreciation of the nuances of cultural
difference. Once media workers become engaged with a story
that involves aspects of cultural and/or racial difference, a fair
approach is to ensure that the story is pursued with the same
thoroughness that would be used to investigate, report and
produce any other story.
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Accuracy
Be prepared, do the background research and get it right.
Complaints about the media’s unfairness can arise due to a lack
of attention to detail. Media workers may sometimes face the
temptation “to not let the facts get in the way of a good story”,
but accurate attention to detail produces a better story. There is
also a practical need to recognise that long-term reputations depend
on accuracy.
Accuracy is attained by developing work practices that incorporate:
close observation
detailed note taking
use of a voice recorder
filing material for easy reference
use of public records to check claims of contacts
checking that research files contain up-to-date information
the confirmation of controversial points with other sources.
Phone numbers of contacts, particularly home and mobile numbers,
should be conveniently recorded so details can be checked while
completing the story. It is practical commitment to the minutiae,
rather than an allegiance to idealised notions of truth, that produces
accuracy. Where and when mistakes are made, errors should be
corrected quickly and freely.
Particular care needs to be taken when reporting on a community
or language group with whom the media worker is not familiar.
In cases of unfamiliarity with a subject, media workers should
take the time to check the spelling and structure of names and to
understand the nuances of meaning that might be disguised by
atypical pronunciation and sentence structure.
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Balance
Getting all sides of the story
Fair representation of actuality requires the media worker to explore
the breadth of the story, to check it with a range of sources and to
present it in an impartial manner that discloses whose interests are
served by various statements. This can be a difficult goal because
it often requires media workers to re-negotiate workloads and
deadlines and to argue for access to limited resources.
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The attempt “to get to the bottom” of the story requires:
interviewing all relevant parties
observing carefully their words and actions
leaving aside all prejudice and preconceptions
understanding the story from the interviewees’ point of view
insisting on equal representation of viewpoints.
Balance is more than just equal space for both sides of the story.
More importantly it is about equal representation of all pertinent
points of view and to do that effectively requires an effort to
understand the validity of each viewpoint to those who hold it. This
is the challenge to media workers: to avoid presenting events and
people in sensationalised, trivialised or stereotyped ways.
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Ethical awareness
How would you feel in their situation?
A common public perception is that media workers fluctuate in
moral responsibility from the high-minded idealism of investigative
journalism to the grubby tactics and antics of the gutter press.
The media workers’ union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts
Alliance has developed a Code of Ethics which calls on members,
particularly those engaged in journalism, to commit themselves
to honesty, accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts
without distortion. In particular, the Code calls on media workers
to avoid:
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invading anyone’s privacy or grief
endangering anyone
making things up
using their positions for personal gain
placing unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including
race, ethnicity, nationality or religious belief.
But ethical awareness requires more than a passing knowledge of
the rules of engagement. Too often discussions of media ethics gets
side-tracked into the search for legislation rather than reasoned
debate about what is good or bad, or better or worse in a particular
situation. There certainly needs to be a set of rules that proscribes
unacceptable behaviour, particularly to help media workers resist
pressure from management and colleagues to be ‘gung-ho’ in the
pursuit of larger audiences by producing stories to a formula, rather
than on the relevant facts.
But beyond that, there also needs to be a greater appreciation among
media workers of the central ethical principle: do to others as you
would have them do to you. The challenge for media workers is to
be constantly asking themselves: how would I feel in the subject’s
situation?
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Code of Ethics
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
Australian Journalists Association
Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are
fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society
to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, and this
is a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question,
entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate
democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression.
Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these
public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise
it, and in the interests of democracy, they should be accountable.
Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not
fulfil their public responsibilities.
MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to:
Honesty
Fairness
Independence
Respect for the rights of others
1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness
and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant
available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost
to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics,
including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual
orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical
or intellectual disability.
3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks
anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s
motives and any alternative attributable source. Where
confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment,
payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness
or independence.
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5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen
to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your
journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for
personal gain.
6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations
to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect
payment made for interviews, pictures, information or
stories.
8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material.
Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any
interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a
person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any
manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10. Do not plagiarise.
11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have
the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Guidance clause: Basic values often need interpretation and
sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires
conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial
advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to
people allows any standard to be overridden.
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Cross-Cultural Competence
Keep communicating
In a society with as much cultural diversity as Australia, fairness
depends on involving those from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The media worker who aspires to tell the full story has to leave
behind the familiar and approach the unfamiliar with curiosity,
sensitivity, respect and the moral imagination to understand the
world from a cultural perspective that may differ from their own.
Different communities have different ways of organising political
and economic affairs, different ways of defining what is right and
wrong and different ways of deciding who has power and how that
power can or might be utilised.
The media worker who is competent in cross-cultural matters will:
seek advice on values, beliefs and practices in other cultures
be flexible and open to negotiation
offer and encourage explanations
be sensitive to verbal and non verbal behaviour
pursue a more accurate, complete and authentic picture of
communities
be sensitive to differences among individuals within a culture
develop more knowledgeable sources
repair misunderstandings by making explicit statements
provide relevant background information pertinent to the story’s
aims and objectives.
Media workers should always be aware that their own values, beliefs
and practices are influenced by their own experience of culture
and are not the only ‘right’ view of the world. It is important to
remember that there can also be enormous cultural diversity within
communities, with many individuals possessing diverse ancestry
and a combination of cultural heritages.
The on-going creation of relationships with diverse sectors of the
community is a key method for developing cultural competence. One
useful way of developing inter-cultural connections, and showing
your contacts that you are committed to them as people, is to call
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upon them as sources for stories that do not relate directly to their
particular community, but to the wider community in general. If
you are doing a vox pop about taxation issues, for example, try to
interview a sample of people that matches the cultural diversity of
the relevant community.
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Racism
A stereotype is never the full story
Stereotypes are fixed generalisations that deny the differences
between individuals in racial or other groups. They are subtle and
pervasive influences that create and maintain the world before we
see it. In 1922, Walter Lippmann wrote: “We imagine most things
before we experience them … [Stereotypes] mark out certain objects
as familiar or strange, emphasising the difference, so that the slightly
familiar is seen as very familiar, and the somewhat strange as
sharply alien.”
Stereotypes are reinforced by selective remembering and selective
forgetting we tend to notice those characteristics and behaviours
that confirm our views and overlook those that challenge our views.
Thus stereotypes become exaggerated and distorted pictures of
others. We are all constantly categorising people and things, and
making judgments and generalisations about them but by falling
back on racial stereotypes, we are failing to get to the detail and
texture of the full story.
The perpetuation of racism is reliant upon stereotypes. Racism is
the belief that one’s own race is superior to others. It operates at
interpersonal and social levels and unfairly reinforces the privileges
of some and the inequality of others, and so distorts the relative
contribution that all members are able to make to society.
Australian media workers have already contributed a great deal to
widespread community rejection of overt racism and general disdain
for specific cases of prejudice and discrimination. However, covert
racism can still be present where unquestioned social myths are used
to justify derogatory preconceptions and patterns of institutionalised
discrimination. Sometimes media workers can become party to this
more insidious type of activity, but can resist taking the easy way
out and assert an intellectual independence by asking of each story
that explores a culturally diverse angle:
is there an undue emphasis on race, ethnicity or religion?
is that emphasis relevant? Why?
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have you checked the facts on which a racist comment is
based?
are names right?
is comment clearly distinguished from news?
have comments been sought from all relevant sources?
will there be an unfair impact on community members
because of the story?
are the visuals or headlines relevant to and congruent with
the story?
is the story free of irrelevant inflammatory language?
Media workers can also play a role in combating racism by
normalising difference in our community, by refusing to pander to
preconceptions about racial stereotypes and by avoiding irrelevant
references to race and ethnicity. It is salient to again note that
the breakdown of stereotypes can also be achieved through the
inclusion of a diversity of voices in general reporting that has
nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
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Racial Vilification/Hatred Acts
The Australian media has a set of legal responsibilities with
regard to reporting racist remarks. They are contained in the
Commonwealth’s 1995 Racial Hatred Act and various States’ Racial
Vilification Acts.
These Acts are in response to article 4(a) of the International Convention
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which says that signatories:
Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination
of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement
to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or
incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons
of another colour or ethnic origin …
The Racial Hatred Act introduced in October 1995 allows people to
complain about publicly offensive or abusive behaviour based on
racial hatred. The Racial Hatred Act makes it unlawful “to offend,
insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people
… because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other
person or … group.” Section 18D exempts:
publication, discussion or debate for academic, artistic or scientific
purposes or in the public interest and
the making of a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of
public interest or a fair comment of a genuine belief.
An unlawful act is not necessarily a criminal offence. The Racial
Discrimination Commissioner of the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission deals with grievances after receiving
written notification outlining a specific complaint. Upon receiving
written notification, the Commissioner then attempts to conciliate the
issue, calling a compulsory conference if necessary. The Commission
can make non-binding declarations about past conduct and actions
to redress the situation. It can also recommend payment of
compensation for damages including humiliation and injured feelings.
The Commission or the complainant must then enforce the declaration
by applying to the Federal Court.
Racial Vilification and the Media
The legislation covers all aspects of Australian society and applies
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to people in all walks of life. However, numerous complaints
pursued under the Racial Hatred Act are directed towards the media.
Complainants are most often concerned about:
the perpetuation of negative racial stereotypes
sensationalist reporting on race issues
the use of gratuitous ethnic slurs
the citing of ethnicity when it has little or no relevance to
the story.
The legislation accepts there are legitimate social and policy issues
which need to be freely and fairly debated in the public interest, and
that the media has a vital role to play in that process. But media
workers can only rely on the exemptions in the Act by taking an
approach that is accurate, fair and reasonable:
a report must make it clear that a racially offensive statement
is not the reporter’s own,
a report must be free from embellishment or comment that
could itself amount to racial vilification,
commentary must state the facts on which opinions are based
commentary must reflect a genuinely held belief arrived at
reasonably and in good faith.
Example: when reporting on racist statements made at a public
meeting, media workers should clearly attribute the comments or
views to the person making or holding them – so that it is absolutely
clear they are not the views of the media worker or their employer.
State Legislation
Australian States have similar legislation but of varying strengths.
Examples of this legislation include:
The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination (Racial Vilification) Act says
it is unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards,
serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of
persons because of the race of the person or members of the group.
The Western Australia Criminal Code makes it an offence to publish
material which incites racial hatred, though not by way of television
or radio.
The Queensland Anti Discrimination Act makes it an offence to incite
un-lawful discrimination by the advocacy of racial or religious hatred
or hostility.
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Industry Codes of Practice
Section 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires
radio and television industry groups to consult with the Australian
Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to develop codes of practice that,
among other things, prevent the use of offensive language and
promote accuracy and fairness in news and current affairs programs.
In particular, these codes of conduct are expected to minimise any
material that is likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against, or
vilify, any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality,
race, gender, sexual preference, age, religion or physical or mental
disability.
Media industry groups have phrased their codes in different but
essentially similar ways. These self-regulation codes are outlined
in Appendix A. They can be found in full at the ABA website at
<http://www.aba.gov.au/what/program/codes/index.htm>.
Complaints Process
It is perhaps a small comfort to media workers that the high ideals
of the industry codes of conduct are rarely enforced with any degree
of determination and complaints are most often dismissed. To
proceed with a complaint, a complainant must first take up the issue
promptly and directly with the broadcaster or publisher concerned. If
a complainant considers the respondent’s reply is unsatisfactory, the
complainant may then refer the matter to the Australian Broadcasting
Authority (ABA) or Australian Press Council (APC) for further
investigation and determination.
Any action taken by the ABA as a result of a breach of a code of
practice or the Act will depend on the seriousness of the breach.
The ABA has a range of sanctions available at its disposal if it
finds action against a broadcaster should be taken. It can make
compliance with a code of practice a condition of a broadcaster’s
licence. Alternatively, the ABA may take administrative action such
as issuing a notice requiring compliance with the Act. The ABA also
has the power to impose a program standard on all broadcasters
in an industry sector. Licensees may face fines up to $200,000 for
breach of licence conditions or up to $2m for failure to comply
with notices.
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By way of contrast, the APC considers the determination of its
Complaints Committee and usually issues adjudication on the
complaint. In its adjudication, the Council may uphold a complaint
in whole or in part, or it may dismiss all aspects of the complaint.
Alternately, it may simply express an opinion on the matter. It has
no power to penalise a publication, or to order it to do anything, but
the publication is expected to print an APC adjudication concerning
that publication.
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Finding Contacts in a Diverse
Society
Media workers rely on a network of formal and informal
contacts to help them carry out their work. Achieving fairness
relies upon finding contacts that are appropriate for the story being
developed, rather than rounding up the usual contacts merely
because they are available.
Local community contacts are an essential part of coming to
understand what is regarded as culturally appropriate by particular
cultural groups. What is appropriate can change considerably for
communities only kilometres apart and may vary for individual
members of a community depending on not only ancestry, but also
age, gender, educational background and language proficiency.
Techniques for finding contacts vary considerably with each
community covered and every story undertaken. Sometimes media
workers can build on contacts that their media organisation has
already established in the community. But more often the approach
will begin with media liaison officials in government instrumentalities
or community-based organisations. Getting their view of a story
is important but it is also an opportunity to seek leads on other
relevant people to talk to about a particular issue.
For appropriate Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander sources of
information, you might contact the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission (ATSIC) state or regional offices to find out who
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speaks for a particular community. Land Councils, Legal Aid Services,
Education Centres and Health Centres are also useful starting points
to develop contacts and gather a diversity of viewpoints. The National
Indigenous Media Association of Australia (NIMAA) is the peak
body representing Aboriginal Media Associations. Both NIMAA
and Aboriginal Media Associations located throughout Australia
can direct you towards appropriate contacts in the community.
For appropriate ethnic sources of information, you might contact
state and regional Ethnic Community Councils and local ethnic
community organisations to find the appropriate people to source
particular information.
Tips relating to contacts include:
Don’t rely on a single point of contact; look at the phone
book, walk around the community, use lateral thinking to find
alternatives
Be aware of a tendency to rely on the same set of contacts and just
‘round up the usual suspects’
Try to ensure that the people you talk to as ‘representatives’ are
representative of a cross section of the various stakeholders in
the community
When people are claiming some authority to speak on behalf of
others, be sure that such authority has some basis in reality
Be sure to determine when someone is speaking as an individual
and when that person is speaking on behalf of a group or
organisation
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Learn to recognise the gatekeepers who seek to control the
information flow in and out of a community work with them
but seek alternative views.
If there is a problem with gaining access to a community member
to speak on an issue, it could be that a breakdown in inter-cultural
communication has occurred. It is not always easy to recognise
when this has happened. The only way you really learn where the
limits are is to make the mistakes, to realise that something has gone
wrong and to ask if you have inadvertently given offence. If that
is the case, an apology may be the most effective and productive
course of action.
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Effective Cross-Cultural
Communication
Effective communication can be difficult even within one’s own
culture. It can be a struggle for media workers to follow the jargon,
codes and subliminal forms of communication that develop within
any group of people interacting over a length of time. Fair reporting
is even more difficult to achieve when you are required to cross
cultural boundaries, as all Australian media workers will have to
do on a regular basis if they are dedicated to getting the full story
in a diverse society.
Here are some simple steps to help strive towards effective cross-
cultural communication:
One voice does not a community make. Speak with as many people
as possible to ensure that you are not just relying on the view of one
faction. Communities are not homogeneous and there may be many
differences of opinion based around individual experience, family
groupings, regional affiliations or political viewpoints.
Find out about the customs of the local community. Be prepared
to look, listen and learn. Do not approach a community with the
attitude that this community is the same as another community.
Every community is unique. Take the time and make the effort to
understand their particular situation.
Build relationships. Do not expect everything to happen at the
first meeting. Be seen at public community events and get to know
people socially. Let the community pace the meetings. Listen to
what is being said and be comfortable with a silence. Allow time for
people to think. In this way you can establish trust and if you make
a mistake, someone will inform you of that mistake. Avoid making
promises you cannot keep.
Take time. Building trust is not done instantaneously. Avoid
appearing rude and pushy by waiting, having a cup of tea or
coffee and talking about the weather, children or concerns for the
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future before getting onto the main agenda. Get to know each other
so you can judge whether to ask questions directly or indirectly.
Useful strategies include a hinting statement followed by a silence,
volunteering information for confirmation or denial followed by a
silence, and waiting for a later meeting before receiving an answer.
Keep negotiations open. Avoid yes/no questions or questions like
‘do you understand?’ Paraphrase what you believe has been said
and wait for addition or correction. When opinions are conflicting,
adopt a consensus model, listen broadly, take it all on board and
give representation to the broad spectrum of views.
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23
Covering Ethnic
Communities
Australia has people from a diverse array of cultural backgrounds.
To accurately and fairly represent Australia to itself, media workers
need to appreciate the complexity of different cultural norms and
the impact their work has.
Consider the Angle
Avoid sensational headlines and leading statements that may
exaggerate the impact of the story. Avoid stereotypical images that
contain misleading associations between ethnicity and events. Avoid
promoting racism. Do not associate the activities of individuals
with the attitudes of entire communities or racial groups. Avoid
representing the local communities as somehow existing outside of
everyday Australian community life. Do not isolate communities
from the general public with frequent, irrelevant references to
ethnicity or ‘them’. Refer to ethnicity only in cases where it is
relevant or necessary for the audience’s greater comprehension of
core issues, and be sure to explain and provide a context to such
use.
Balanced Representation
Ensure the accuracy of statements made by opposing sources.
Explore and explain the political or publicity advantages they seek.
Become aware of the hidden agendas of sources who may wish to
manipulate public opinion through provocative statements. Liaise
and consult with the community for advice regarding the most
appropriate spokespeople and the most appropriate approach to the
community and the story.
Accurate Language
Be aware of the possible repercussions of reports that make reference
to the ethnicity of participants. People completely unrelated to this
particular debate may be subject to derogatory comments following
sensational coverage on news and current affairs programs. For
example, ‘Arab’ is a term that applies to a broad region and should
not be used to describe a sub-section of that region.
23
11
Names
Special care needs to be taken in reporting on ethnic communities
to ensure that the spelling and pronunciation of all names is correct.
It is also important to use the name that people call themselves. In
some Asian and European cultures, the family name is traditionally
placed before the given name. Thus when Chinese, Khmer, Korean,
Sri Lankan, Tamil, Vietnamese and some Croatian, Hungarian,
Serbian people use their traditional names (for example Jiang Zemin)
then it is appropriate to call them Mr Jiang or, if you are on ‘first’
name terms, Zemin. People from some cultures take an Anglo-Celtic
given name for convenience (eg John Jiang). Ask sources how they
would like to be referred to in your story.
Keep Channels Open
Remember that ethnic communities’ previous experiences of the
media may have given them cause for suspicion. Refusals of
individuals and communities to participate in interviews or to
cooperate with the media should not be translated as either hostility or
as evidence that they have information they wish to remain concealed.
Where English is a second or third language, offer interviewees the
use of a professional translator. Media organisations should establish
and regularly update data regarding ethnic community groups,
contacts and peak bodies. Ensure complaints and comments are
politely and professionally addressed. Despite the abusive or unfair
comment of some respondents, all feedback can be valuable.
Crime
Differentiate between activities of individuals and their communities
which may be subjected to racism by association. Avoid linking
ethno-specific data or images with general criminal activity. Media
workers should avoid the unwarranted introduction of race or
ethnicity into a story, and particularly the unnecessary use of easy
labels in reporting on suspects or convicted criminals. Avoid mention
of physical features that may, often incorrectly, link criminality with
ethnicity. Immigration levels are not connected to crime rates.
Describing Wanted Persons and Suspects
The media plays an important part in alerting the audience to
identifying characteristics of wanted persons and suspects. Racial
24
25
25
identifiers can carry information about geography, about bloodlines,
and about heritage. But they don’t describe much. What, for
example, does an ‘Middle Eastern’ man look like? Is his skin dark
or light? Pale? Is his hair straight? Curly? Wiry? Dreadlocks? Fine?
Short? Long? Does he have a flat, broad nose or is it narrow and
straight? Are his eyes blue or black? Is he heavy set or thin? Is he
a youth or a middle aged-man? When describing suspects wanted
by police, media workers can tell their audience that the suspect
was around 30 years of age, about 170-180 cm, about 80-90kg, with
caramel-brown skin, a crew cut, thick eyebrows, a narrow nose,
thick lips and dark eyes. All of the above are physical characteristics
that can help identify a suspect, but there is no need for a racial tag.
What is added to the above picture if the description ‘of Lebanese
appearance’ is inserted?
Gangs
Be aware of the potential association between descriptions such as
‘youth gangs’ and ethnic youth. It may be useful to see whether
the use of the word ‘Anglo’ would alter the tenor of the story.
Explore possible reasons for the congregation of young people.
It is likely that it is the similarities of language, geography, age
and experience that brings people together rather than criminal
intent.
26
Immigrants and Refugees
Media workers should be aware of the differences between
immigrants and refugees. Refugees have fled their homelands to
avoid persecution and war. Immigrants are people who have moved
from one country to take up permanent residence in a new country.
People who have lived in Australia for a period of time often
regard themselves as Australian and many object to being labelled
‘immigrant’. Verify whether the people in your story are applicants
for refugee or immigration status. Pay attention to the language
used in reports on refugee situations. Language that intimates a
crisis, such as ‘flood of refugees’, ‘human tide’ and ‘mass exodus’ all
contribute to the misperception that there overwhelming numbers
of newcomers who pose a threat to Australia’s national stability
and security. Be aware that some communities are treated with
more sympathy than others. The media rarely question the asylum
needs of East Timorese people, people from the former Republic
of Yugoslavia or Chinese political dissidents. Why is this tolerance
extended to some groups and not to others? Be careful in making
judgments about the ‘genuine need’ of asylum seekers – on what
grounds are you making such claims to the authenticity of such
needs?
File Footage
Identify, preferably with a date, all file footage used. Think carefully
about why a particular piece of footage is relevant to the story and
be aware that the continual use of the same images can promote
negative attitudes towards communities. For example, the repeated
use of the same boat burning when discussing refugee intakes
suggests both an unfounded health threat and an unwarranted
emotional intensity, neither of which further the story.
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Aboriginality
The word ‘Aborigine’ derives from Latin and means ‘from the
beginning’. The associated adjective is ‘Aboriginal’ and it should not
be used as a noun. It is a term with general application to the people,
flora and fauna that existed in any country from time immemorial
or before formal historical records were kept. Use of terms such as
‘the Aborigines’ and ‘blacks’ tends to suggest a single dimension to
a broad diversity of people, and should be avoided. While editors
maintain that space seldom allows use of the alternatives to “blacks”
in headlines, often it is an easy option resorted to without the
exercise of appropriate creativity.
The terms indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people not only have specific application to Australia
but also help stress the humanity of the people being described.
12
29
29
Capitalisation acknowledges their significance as traditional owners
of the land. The abbreviation “ATSI people” should be avoided
as jargon. Terms such as half-caste and quarter-caste should also
be avoided as demeaning and irrelevant. The overuse of collective
pronouns such as ‘them’, ‘they’ and ‘those people’ should also be
avoided and are unnecessarily divisive – if they are ‘them’, then
who are ‘we’?
It is not up to a media worker to question an individual’s
Aboriginality. Acceptance or rejection of a person’s claims of
Aboriginality can only come from within the Aboriginal community,
so broad and sensitive consultation with community members is the
best way to determine a person’s Aboriginality. Governments and
courts have accepted the following definition:
An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is a person
of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies
as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as
such by the community in which he or she lives.
It needs to be acknowledged that resolving
who, or what, is indigenous is complex for
both indigenous and non-
indigenous people. The
historical separation of
indigenous children from
their parents, the
dispossession of their
land, their economic
exploitation, and the
removal and suspension
of their right to exercise
control over their own
affairs have all
contributed to a
breakdown in
traditional
connections.
Indigenous Australians and
Diversity
Australian indigenous culture has always been diverse and pluralistic.
There were approximately 250 separate language groups in 1788 and
they each regarded themselves as separate entities.
There is no one kind of Aboriginal person or community. Indigenous
communities throughout Australia have their own distinct history, politics,
culture and linguistic experience. Although indigenous people may share
many experiences and similar circumstances, they are not a homogeneous
group and no single person can speak for all indigenous people.
There is a range of difference between indigenous people living
in settled and remote Australia. Settled Australia can be broadly
characterised as the zone stretching from Cairns to Adelaide and
around to Perth, an area in which all the major cities, institutions and
facilities are located. Indigenous Australians in settled areas have been
mostly dispossessed of their land and significant aspects of their culture
in the process of colonisation and have had no alternative but to adapt
to the dominant culture. Remote Australia covers the remainder of the
continent and includes the Torres Strait Islands. Away from settled
Australia, many indigenous people have maintained their languages
and their traditional relations to the land and one another. There is
no clear line between settled and remote Australia, just continuous
variation that produces even more diversity.
That diversity is evident in the way it has become acceptable in many
instances to refer to indigenous Australians by their own terms of
regional identification:–
Koori NSW, Vic, Tas
Murri Qld
Nungar SA
Nyungar WA – southern
Yamayti WA – northern
Yolngu Arnhem Land
Anangu Central Australia
Many indigenous communities refer to themselves by their own
language group name such as Arrernte, Walpiri, Tiwi, Eora and Jingli.
Whilst such terms are largely acceptable, you should consult with
the local indigenous community for their preferred way of being
collectively identified and described.
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31
Covering Indigenous
Australia
Indigenous people who have grown up in settled Australia generally
expect no more sensitivity and respect than you would show to
any other source or interviewee. Many indigenous people from
remote Australia still participate in traditional culture and their
first language is not English. To communicate effectively with
indigenous people in remote areas requires patience, persistence
and an appreciation of your own role as a media worker. The
following information has particular relevance to media work in
remote communities but also some application to work in settled
areas. It is intended only to provide some insights into issues that
could be relevant and is not intended to be prescriptive for all
situations.
It cannot be over emphasised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander communities are diverse, and therefore no tips on procedural
matters, or definitive list of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ approaches will be
relevant to all situations. The most important thing regarding an
appropriate approach is to ask around and see what protocols apply
in the community with whom you want to work. Many people
with whom you liaise may be bi-culturally competent and will be
able to advise you in expected norms of behaviour in particular
communities.
Asking Questions/ Approach
In many communities, asking questions of people with whom you
have no established relationship is regarded as unacceptable. For
many traditionally-oriented indigenous people, the proper way to
learn things is through observation and personal experience. You
can find out the culturally appropriate method of approach by
liaising with a local community organisation, land council or ATSIC
office. Don’t directly approach the entrance to a person’s dwelling
and certainly don’t go inside without an invitation. Stop outside
their home and wait for them to come to you. Be ready to sit
on the ground to talk about why you wish to discuss a matter
with them.
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14
Who has the right to speak?
There may be people from a variety of language groups now living
at one location. This sometimes leads to tensions between families
who are descendants of the original landowners and those who
have come from elsewhere. Speaking on behalf of people without
authority on matters pertaining to country, law, business or culture
can cause problems. Do your research and find the appropriate
people who have the authority (in indigenous ways) to speak for a
particular area. The right to speak is traditionally negotiated face to
face. The safest course of action is to ask the interviewee how he/she
would like to be identified in your work some people prefer
an institutional title, while others prefer to have their community
status noted. Resist the use of the term ‘Aboriginal spokesperson’.
If someone is speaking on behalf of a particular community, name
the community.
Eye Contact
While for many media workers direct eye contact and a firm
handshake are important elements to establishing rapport with
a contact, in some Aboriginal communities direct eye contact is
regarded as intrusive, disturbing and offensive, and will be avoided
as a matter of cultural protocol. Some indigenous people may not
look at you while you are talking, and it is easy to think “Are they
listening to me?” Lack of eye contact should not be understood as
someone’s inability to deal with ‘truth’.
Greeting and Pointing
Many indigenous Australians do not traditionally greet each other in
the same manner as non-indigenous Australians do. Do not mistake
a refusal to speak as hostility or indifference. The person may not
feel it appropriate to speak at that particular time, under those
particular circumstances. Handshakes are not universally given in
all indigenous communities. Follow the local lead. Don’t think
people are angry at you or do not like you because they do not
wave or say hello. They may simply find it superfluous. They can
see that you can see them. Similarly, many indigenous people in
remote areas prefer not to use the hands to point, as this can be
seen as disrespectful. Directions may be sometimes given through a
pursing of the lips and a movement of the head.
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33
Agreement/Disagreement
Agreement and disagreement can be passive in many indigenous
communities. People may say yes to you to avoid the conflict
of saying no directly, and instead wait for a less direct way of
expressing such a response. Indigenous people can use indirectness
and circumspection in expressing disagreement. Non-indigenous
people may mistakenly think that an indigenous interviewee agrees
with them, especially if they do not take the time to wait for the
interviewee to express his or her real opinion. Indirectness and
circumspection are also crucial to the process of consensus building,
which is used by many indigenous people to reach decisions. Just
as the media worker has a right to ask questions, people have a
right not to answer them.
Time
Time is everything to the media worker: schedules dominate planning,
deadlines are always looming. However conventional time-keeping
methods and attitudes towards time may be of little concern to some
indigenous people. This is because, in much traditional Indigenous
culture, emphasis is placed on the present and finding contentment
with ‘being’, rather than constantly focussing on the future and the
rush required ‘to become’.
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Extended Families/Kinship
Many indigenous people are group oriented rather than individually
oriented. Relatives are not seen as additional to the family – they
are an integral part of the extended family and there are often
obligations that need to be carried out in a manner that would not
be usual in non-indigenous cultures. Kinship ties in many remote
communities are not only along biological lines but also through an
additional, complex social system of kinship or ‘skin’ names which
involves classifying people you meet as relatives. These traditional
relationships determine social interaction, privileges, obligations
and also impose restrictions on social contact.
Gender Specific
Divisions of labour in traditional indigenous society is often on the
basis of gender men hunt, women gather food and look after the
camp. It is not appropriate for outsiders to challenge such cultural
beliefs from a perspective informed by non-indigenous cultural
notions of male or female ‘rights’. Gender differentiation is also
often inherent in the divisions of roles around kinship ties. Some
indigenous sites are gender specific and referred to as women’s
or men’s business, as are the stories, dances and rituals associated
with them.
Avoidance Relationships
Some indigenous Australians observe avoidance relationships and
it is not acceptable in such cases for some people to make contact
and/or be alone or in proximity of one another. This might be an
avoidance between adult brothers and sisters, or it might be an
avoidance between a man and his mother in-law.
Sacred or Significant Sites
Such sites are an integral part of indigenous culture and are
the settings of their custodians’ most important knowledge and
activities. They are fundamental to a sense of self and to destroy,
damage or interfere with such a site may cause great distress. When
in remote areas, don’t wander around or go bush without consulting
and gaining permission from the local custodians.
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35
35
Visual Representation
Think carefully about the images you are taking, and why you want
them. Do you have permission to record an image? Is the image pointing
to or confirming a stereotype? Can you point to an issue of concern in a
creative and imaginative way without relying on a cliché?
Naming deceased persons
In many indigenous communities, the depiction or mention of a
person who has passed away can cause great distress to people, as
can showing their image through visual media. Even using the same
name as that of a deceased person, or even a similar sound, can cause
distress for a period of time. Some groups have a special term that is
used instead of the deceased person’s name. You will know the time
has come to use the prohibited name again when you hear locals using
that name. When in doubt about naming or visually showing someone
who has passed away, ask people within that community for advice
regarding that community’s protocol on such a matter.
Showing deceased persons
The use of archival footage presents difficulties that media workers
need to address before the post-production stage of a project. Voice
recordings and still photographs can present the same problems as
audio visual material. Rigorous sourcing of the material allows you
to issue warnings that the following material contains images of
deceased people and may cause distress to people from a particular
community.
Permits to visit indigenous communities
To visit designated indigenous lands in some parts of Australia, a
visitor’s permit or agreement to visit must be obtained from the
local Aboriginal Community Council. In some cases, you will need to
contact the Land Council who will consult with the local community
that you wish to visit. Aboriginal Land is private land and its owners
have the legal right to refuse permission to their land. You need
to be aware that permits can take up to a number of months to
process, as the traditional owners may not be easily contacted. The
Northern Land Council in the Northern Territory estimate that of the
approximate 15,000 applications to gain access to Aboriginal land that
it receives each year, about 97% are approved.
36
Shame
When many Aboriginal people speak of getting ‘shame’ it is not
the same as when non-Aboriginal people speak of being ashamed.
While people are ashamed when their wrongdoing leads to others
holding a bad opinion of them, getting ‘shame’ includes feeling
uncomfortable, uncertain, clumsy, out of place, out of one’s depth
and a desire to be out of an unpleasant situation. So Aboriginal
people talk of getting shame when non-Aboriginal people would
not speak of being ashamed, for example when an Aboriginal
person is entering a strange place, meeting strangers or praised
for achievement.
Balancing Positive and Negative Stories
There has been a significant improvement from the Australian
media in the recent past in assisting non-indigenous Australians
to better understand the various successes and challenges faced by
indigenous Australians. Many media workers do not merely focus
on conflict when reporting indigenous issues. Investigation can
reveal many positive stories, not only on the sporting field, but also
across a broad range of topics, events and issues. Media workers
have also realised that a story about a social problem can be made
even better by canvassing members of the appropriate indigenous
community on their perceptions and prescriptions, rather than solely
seeking the opinions of outside experts or politicians.
37
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Principles
Lester Bostock (1997) is a Bundjalung elder with thirty years
experience in the media. He has set out some general points of
protocol which are useful to media workers in a variety of reporting
or production roles:
1. Program makers should always be aware of and challenge
their own prejudices, stereotyped beliefs and perceptions
about indigenous people.
2. An Aboriginal view of indigenous issues may differ from a
non-Aboriginal one.
3. Where non-indigenous people produce programs on
indigenous people they should do so in consultation with
the indigenous people, being particularly sensitive to the
experience of those who are the subjects of the program.
4. Any dealings with indigenous people should be negotiated
openly and honestly. The indigenous people involved with
the deal should be fully informed of the consequences of
any proposed agreements, and they retain their right to seek
independent legal advice as and when they see fit.
5. No damage of any kind should be done to the lands of
indigenous people or cultural property, nor to the subject(s)
of programs. Special consideration should be given to the
applicability of non-indigenous notions of intellectual property
rights, especially copyright, to the cultures of indigenous
people.
6. The collection and use of information for a project should
be done in such a way that it will not be used against or
be considered detrimental to the people from whom the
information comes.
7. Program makers need always to examine their own
preconceptions in order to provide a report that is balanced
by an awareness of the cultural norms and practices of
indigenous people.
Appendix – Self-Regulation Codes
The Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations
(FACTS) code prohibits members from broadcasting material likely
to:
1.8.5 seriously offend the cultural sensitivities of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people or of ethnic groups or racial groups in
the Australian community;
1.8.6 provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt or
severe ridicule against a person or group of persons on the grounds
of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race,
religion or sexual preference.
Clause 1.9 allows exceptions where material is broadcast reasonably
and in good faith as an artistic work (including comedy or satire)
or in the course of any discussion or debate for an academic,
artistic, scientific or public interest purpose. Clause 1.10 “expects”
compliance with the Advertiser Code of Ethics which states:
Advertisements shall not portray people in a way which
discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the
community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, age,
sexual preference, religion, disability or political belief.
The Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters (FARB) code
prohibits members from broadcasting offensive material in terms
taken directly from Section 123 of Broadcasting Services Act 1992
quoted above. In response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal
Deaths in Custody, FARB has “Guidelines on the Portrayal of
Indigenous Australians on Commercial Radio” which include
prohibitions against inciting serious contempt for, severely ridiculing,
prejudicing, belittling or unduly emphasising Aboriginal people.
The Guidelines also call for respect for Aboriginal protocols and
balance by providing a right of reply and weighing negative aspects
of the story against positive aspects.
The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association
(ASTRA) provides codes of practice for pay-TV and narrowcasting
operators in similar terms to section 123 of Broadcasting Services
Act quoted above.
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39
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) code of practice
is framed more broadly than those of its commercial competitors.
Clause 2.4 addresses discrimination in the following terms: “The
presentation or portrayal of people in a way which is likely to
encourage denigration of or discrimination against any person or
section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality,
sex, age, disability or illness, social or occupational status, sexual
preference or the holding of any religious, cultural or political
belief will be avoided.” The requirement is not intended to prevent
the broadcast of material which is factual, or the expression of
genuinely-held opinion in a news or current affairs program, or in
the legitimate context of a humorous, satirical or dramatic work.
Specifically, clause 3.4 requires program makers and journalists to
respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to take
particular care in traditional matters such as the naming or depicting
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people after death.
The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Charter requires the public
radio and TV broadcaster to cater to the communications needs
of Australia’s multicultural society, including ethnic, Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander communities, specifically by increasing
awareness, understanding and acceptance of the diversity of cultures
and languages in Australian society. To this end section 2.1 of
the SBS code of practice seeks to counter attitudes of prejudice
against any person or group on the basis of their race, ethnicity,
nationality, gender, age, sexual preference, religion, physical or
mental disability, occupational status or political beliefs. SBS seeks
to correct distorted pictures of cultural communities and issues of
race generally by avoiding simplistic representations and presenting
programs which reflect Australia’s cultural diversity and which
exposes racist attitudes and stereotyping.
The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA)
code of practice also takes an activist position by requiring community
broadcasters to:
(1.6) Incorporate programming policies which oppose and attempt to
break down prejudice on the basis of race, sex, nationality, religion,
disability, ethnic background, age or sexual preference.
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40
Further clause 2.3 prohibits “material which may stereotype, incite,
vilify, or perpetuate hatred against, or attempt to demean any person
or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual
preference, religion, age or physical or mental disability” and clause
2.4 requires news and current affairs programs to “provide access to
views under-represented by the mainstream media”.
The Australian Press Council is the means of self-regulation by
Australia’s print-based media and its statement of principles accepts
that the freedom of the press is balanced by a responsibility to the
public interest that includes commitments to accuracy and balance
as well as a refusal to place gratuitous emphasis on the race, religion,
nationality, colour, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation,
marital status, disability, illness, or age of an individual or group.
The Advertising Standards Council is a self-regulatory body
representing publishers and broadcasters which has a code of
practice complaints process that attempts to ensure that advertising
in its member media complies with Commonwealth law and does
not engage in unlawful discrimination.
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Further Reading
ABC Radio National (1996) Mainstream Coverage of Ethnic Events, http:/
/www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/mediarpt/mstories/mr141 96.htm
Boreland, M. & Smith, L. (1996) Community Relations in Media
Education: Representation of Ethnic Communities in Australian Print and
Broadcast Media, Deakin University: Geelong.
Bostock, L. (1997) The Greater Perspective: Protocol and Guidelines for
the Production of Film and Television on Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Communities, SBS: Sydney.
Hartley, J. & McKee, A. (eds.) (1996) Telling Both Stories: Indigenous
Australia and the Media, Arts Enterprise, Edith Cowan University:
Perth.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1997) The
Racial Hatred Act: A Guide for People Working in the Media,
http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/act/rha_idx.html
Sheridan Burns, L. & McKee, A. (1999) Reporting Indigenous Issues:
some practicial suggestions for journalists, Australian Journalism
Review, Volume 21 (1) pp.103-117.
... Some major publishing organisations are no longer members of the APC, and in recent years under the leadership of David Flint, the APC has dismissed more than 60% of complaints as being 'fair comment' or 'in the public interest'. This record has resulted in a decline in the number of complaints lodged but it may still be worthwhile following through on a complaint, including asking for a right of reply (Stockwell and Scott, 2000). ...
... In recent years a number of resources have been developed to assist journalists with the task of appropriately covering Indigenous issues. These include Bostock's (1997) The greater perspective, developed for SBS, the ABC's online Cultural protocols for Indigenous reporting in the media, and the Allmedia guide to fair and cross-cultural reporting (Stockwell & Scott, 2000), to name a few. However, these, and general codes of practice on reporting Indigenous issues, do not provide guidance on reporting suicide and mental illness for Indigenous Australians, except that editorial policies have generally adopted protocols regarding the naming and portraying of a deceased person. ...
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The National Media Forum was established following the 1992 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Forum brings together journalists, Indigenous community members and media researchers, which meets biennially to discuss the representation of Indigenous people in the Australian media. The theme of the 1998 National Media Forum in Perth, Western Australia, was 'Reporting on Indigenous Issues'. This two-day workshop aimed to move away from more common polarised debate about reporting, which is characterised by sweeping Indigenous accusations of racism and defensive accounts of 'standard journalistic practice'. This paper offers practical suggestions from delegates useful to working journalists and journalism students considering the complexity of covering Indigenous issues in the Australian media.
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