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?