Day 21: Why is the Australian media so white?

Day 21: Why is the Australian media so white?

Day 21: Why is the Australian media so white?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

You don’t have to look far to see that the Australian media is predominantly Caucasian. Whether you’re watching the news on Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 10 or even the ABC (with the notable exception of Jeremy Fernandez), every major presenter, reporter and editor – the ‘faces’ of Australian media, as it were – is stunningly Caucasian. I’ve omitted SBS because multiculturalism is obviously their beat, but otherwise it strikes me as incredibly odd that I should have to watch SBS in order to see something that resembles a cross-section of Australian society.

I can also confirm from personal experience that in the print media, the editors, publishers and anyone else who holds the proverbial keys to the doors are predominantly Caucasian.

Now, to be clear, this isn’t something I ever consciously viewed as a problem. Coming into the industry, I simply accepted it as the environment I’d be working in. It is what it is.

But I was put in a difficult position today when two colleagues, whose backgrounds are in IT and programming, asked a very simple question: why is it this way?

These colleagues of mine are in the prime of their lives – young, creative, perfectly adjusted and nowhere near close to settling down… yet as Asians they are completely disconnected from the local news and media. They literally consume zero in the way of local television, radio and print (something I find difficult to fathom). And the frightening thing is, I’ve met a lot of people like this.

For them, the way I manipulate words and reader psychology is some kind of dark art; and my insights into the media are a window to a world that is completely alien to them.

Since the media has completely failed in its principle function of informing and providing my colleagues with a sense of community, I felt compelled and obliged to give them an answer.

And I couldn’t.

I couldn’t, in all honesty, say that there aren’t enough non-Caucasians who speak without an accent. Most of those who are younger than me are have immaculate pronunciation and are indistinguishable from the locals.

Nor could I say, as I’ve often heard, that Asian and other ethnic families tend not to encourage artistic pursuits in their children: that’s like saying there are no artists in China, which is absurd.

My gut tells me that the situation is an inherited one, partly a legacy of the White Australia Anglosphere that is no longer public policy, but which hasn’t been completely worked out of the social consciousness.

I want to say that my colleagues’ lack of interest or engagement in the media stems from a lack of cultural relevance, and that the media should cater to them on more culturally specific terms – but that’s no way to promote understanding within a multicultural society. I think it’d be more productive to say it’d be nice to see the local news being reported by someone who actually looks like us from time to time.

Maybe then, my colleagues would tune in.

Then again, when they can already get what they want from the internet, why would they bother?

7 thoughts on “Day 21: Why is the Australian media so white?

  1. Interesting comments. Is it just Asians or have all minorities / ethnicity a similar problem? How do the native peoples fare? I know that whites look down on the indigenous people as being lazy but there are lazy people in all walks of life. And it is not necessarily that they are lazy for all of the top jobs to be predominantly white. We seem to have a good mix here in England, that is unless i am kidding myself. We have Asian chief of Police etc and because of the politically correct squad many of our jobs go to non British so we are seen to be non discriminatory. Which is a load of bull as it just channels the jobs to foreigners and hurts the native population. Maybe i should shut up now as i think i am going to get really politically incorrect. 😉

  2. An interesting pickle, that one. Personally I’ve always believed in enforcing a meritocracy that is colour-blind. I’m more concerned with having the right people doing the job than keeping up appearances 🙂 But to answer your question, I would say that this phenomenon applies across all ethnic minorities, including indigenous Australians.

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  5. As a middle aged white bloke in the UK I sometimes feel that if I went for particular jobs I wouldn’t get them specifically because I am a middle aged white bloke.
    That may not be the reality of things but it is certainly how I feel. At work there are workshops for differing parts of the workforce such as afro-carabian, LGBT, muslims or groups just women. Christian, white and heterosexual.. do it on your own and in your own time old son!!
    I don’t know the population mix of Australia but I’m going to be super lazy and assume it is somewhere in the region of 5 to 10% in cities and less across a territory or what ever you call them (what we would perhaps call a county). Then you would surely expect in the region of 90-95% of a workforce in a particular field to reflect the remainder of the population.
    The UK has a diverse public face in much of the media but thinking about it I don’t think I have ever seen a Chinese news reader?! But maybe that is because the Chinese community makes up in the region of 1.5% of London’s population and much less across the UK.
    Just because they are not the public face of a company does not mean they are not getting employed.

    After reading your 2013 blogs you don’t paint a very good image of Australia but I’m going to keep reading to see if things have changed. Even a small amount.

    • Hi, thanks for stopping by again.

      I think you raise an interesting point with your experiences as a “middle-aged white bloke”. They are your lived experiences, and they are both real and valid. On the other hand, being a “middle-aged white bloke”, you are part of a broader statistical demographic that has many associated generalisations that don’t necessarily match your lived experience.

      It’s fascinating to me because I’d tend to believe social media encourages us to project our personal beliefs upon the broader population; where we conflate the two by developing an expectation that our lived experiences and that of the broader demographic to which we belong should be one and the same.

      Case in point: I’d like to believe I have a passable command of the spoken English language… but I know that for many Chinese immigrants, they struggle to separate their L’s from their R’s.

      That said, I don’t know that things have changed in any fundamental way in Australia. If there’s a difference between the years, it’s because I’ve chosen to focus on different things. Much as I appreciate the attention you’re giving me, I hope you’ll bear in mind this is just a blog and therefore entirely indulgent.

      • I’m doing a 365 project and found your blog through a link while looking for some inspiration. Rather than sticking to the plan & looking at photos I started reading…..

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