Social commentary and racism in 2019

Mass media Newspapers Journalism Racism Media regulation Australia

Over the 12 months to April 2019, All Together Now monitored mainstream Australian media for racialised reporting. Out of 281 media pieces sampled during that period, 57% were negative when discussing race. Muslim women are most often targeted by negatively racialised social commentary, and that the perpetrators are primarily mainstream newspapers. While topics of public debate changed over time, the narratives in these negative media pieces did not follow suit. When talking about race, 70% of pieces used covert techniques such as dog-whistling, irony and de-contextualisation. Given that the media industry’s codes of conduct consider overt forms of racism only, media regulators cannot prosecute media agencies that perpetuate subtle forms of racism, leaving targeted Australians without an “independent” avenue for complaint.

Key recommendations:

(1) Strengthen media regulatory frameworks, including:

  • Binding standards on racism
  • Regulate against all forms of racism
  • Extend the timeframe for lodging complaints

(2) Increase the cultural diversity of media agencies’ workforce

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