Mainstream Media and Indigenous Australians

I recently came across a moving viral video where an Indigenous teenager created a social experiment of ‘trust’. The teen, Jasirah Bin Hitam, stood blindfolded with her arms wide open on Perth’s popular Cottesloe Beach with a sign reading; “I trust you. Do you trust me? Let’s hug.”

Jesirah said that she was motivated to raise awareness of the level of distrust towards Indigenous Australians, after learning that only 13% of Australians trust Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

After the recent BCM310 lecture on ‘Anti-racism and Dominant Media Paradigms’, this video and the accompanying statistic lead me to question how the Australian media are currently portraying Aboriginal people, and whether the media are contributing to such statistics.

As of 2010, only 9% of Aboriginal people, and 16% of non-Aboriginal Australians, believe the media present a balanced view of Aboriginal people. It has been suggested that this is in part due to the lack of diversity in Australian media, in particular the print media, which is concentrated with only three owners – News Limited, Fairfax Media and APN News and Media. With these three owners holding approximately 98% of the sector, and News Limited and Fairfax Media together holding about 88% of the print media assets in Australia, it can be suggested that the variety of original news that Australians consume daily is limited.

It is concerning to learn that 74% of media articles about Indigenous health are negative. Sure, the statistics are not great considering the current gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on such things as life expectancy, employment and prison rates. However, are the Australian media doing enough to look for positive stories to report?

Professor Fiona Stanley, of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, says extensive research suggests, “Indigenous children’s self esteem, resilience and educational outcomes depend on how they believe the dominant culture perceives their culture.” In other words, Aboriginal children will increasingly feel bad about their culture, with every negative report on Aboriginal people in mainstream media. She says positive stories “matter at many levels” to making a significant impact on the health and wellbeing on Indigenous children.

Do you think the Australian media need to make more of a conscious effort to publish positive stories on Indigenous Australians?


Gender and the State of the Newsroom: Is the future looking brighter?

While women now make up 55.5% of Australian journalists, gender bias remains a significant problem in Australian newsrooms. However, with the profession continuing to grow in popularity amongst young female Australians, will women be able to break though the ‘glass ceiling’?

Currently, the ‘glass ceiling’ is still seen as a considerable hurdle for women within the newsroom, with only approximately 7% of female journalists being classified as senior managers, such as editor-in-chief and managing editors. Additionally, a pay-gap is quite significant with one-third of female journalists earning over $72,000 a year, compared to around 50% of men in the industry.

A 2009 study, which surveyed senior secondary school students and high school career advisors, found that journalism as a career choice has increased among young women, while it has declined in popularity among men. These results suggest a steady increase in the percentage of Australian female journalists, with 2009 high school students likely being those that have recently graduated from University degrees.

As a result of the increased popularity of Journalism as a career choice for women, a significant portion of women in the industry include recent graduates, meaning they are likely younger and less experienced then their male counterparts. Approximately 61% of females in the newsroom are under 35 years, while only 34.6% of men are. And with around 70% of journalism students being women who are soon to enter the industry, there is an expected sea change in the newsroom in years to come.

As women within the industry become older and more experienced, it can be expected that there will be an increase in women holding high-level jobs. Would you agree or do you think Journalism will continue to be a male-dominated industry?

Viewing Animals Suffering: Documentaries Making a Difference

Every day animals are tortured and killed for food, fashion, experimentation and entertainment. However, there are a number of informative documentaries acting as a voice for these animals, effectively campaigning for change through education and awareness.

I must admit, despite bring an ‘animal lover’, I have been rather naïve in regards to matters of animal suffering. I eat meat, I buy leather goods, I have been to SeaWorld, and I have visited countless Zoos. And I have never really thought twice when doing any of which, until recently. What initially challenged my ignorance and provoked an interest in campaigning against animal suffering for me were two heart-wrenching documentaries, Blackfish and Earthlings.

Blackfish tells the story of the performing killer whale Tilikum, who killed a number of people during his time in captivity at SeaWorld and Sealand of the Pacific. The film brings to light the important issue of holding Orca’s in captivity, and the potential consequences for both the animal and the people working closely with the animal. As a direct reflection of the impact of the film, SeaWorlds shares dropped 33% and profits dropped $42 million below analysts’ expectations, which Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite says demonstrates how “people are truly willing to change ethically” after watching the film.

Similarly, Earthlings sets out to create change through bringing to light the issue of animal suffering for food, fashion, experimentation and entertainment. The film aims to act as a voice for mistreated animals through showing sensitive footage of a number of horrifying settings such as puppy mills, animal shelters, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, research labs, and more. To say the least, the film was hard to watch. I found myself skipping through parts as it brought me to the brink of tears, making me question whether or not I wanted to continue to eat meat, along with strengthening my desire to adopt a shelter dog. Nicknamed “The Vegan Maker”, the comments underneath the full-length video on YouTube suggests the huge impact the film has had on many people, with almost all comments stating a change in attitude and awareness, such as “I will never again take part in this cruelty” and “This infuriates me. Just one look at this and I am Vegan”.

Image Via Indy Bay

Both documentaries demonstrate the power of campaigning for animals through generating education and awareness around important issues of animal mistreatment. Have any documentaries that raise awareness of animal suffering had a profound impact on your attitude and behaviour?

Controlling the Self Image: Selfies and Your Career

Sourcing the right light, perfecting the pose, tilting the camera to just the right angle, repeating until the right photo is captured, adding a flattering filter, and finally sharing on your social media site of choice.

This grueling process of the selfie, undertaken more than 17 million times-per-week, is suggested as being a way to control the self-image and put forward the best version of oneself. A quick Google search produces endless advice articles offering tips to take the perfect selfie “like a supermodel”. However, despite the immense popularity of perfecting the selfie, many employers who scour the social media sites of potential candidates are suggesting that even “perfected” selfies reveal personality traits that could cost you the job of your dreams.

Image via tCloud Blog

In the job application process most candidates would be quick to remove any potentially damaging photos from their social media pages, particularly photos that might imply any reckless behaviour. Yet, many oversee the potential implications of their selfies.

According to researchers at The University of North Florida and The University of Georgia, selfies reveal traits of narcissism, where people do things to get attention, validation and approval. Similarly, a study from Ohio State University suggests that men who frequently share selfies on social media tested higher in psychopathic traits, such as lacking empathy and a disregard for how their behaviour affects others.

Behaviours of narcissism and psychopathy are considered troubling for employers as some of the key qualities employers are looking for in top candidates are confidence, self-assurance, self-control, and a team player. Of course, not everyone who shares selfies on social media have these personality traits. However, the more selfies that someone is willing to post online, the more material potential employers have to judge.

Experts suggest to limit your publically viewable selfies to four or five that portray “a well-rounded person”. If you’re a selfie taker – would you be willing to curb your selfie habits to increase your chances of landing that dream job? Or, at least change your security setting to make the majority of your selfies hidden from public view?