Content Description

Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts

Elaboration

Analysing and identifying how socio-cultural values, attitudes and beliefs are conveyed in texts, for example comparing and analysing perspectives about an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issue reported in commercial media compared to public and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media

Essential Question

In what ways can perspectives influence reporting in media and other texts?

Understanding

Different perspectives about socio-cultural values, beliefs and attitudes are conveyed across various texts and media

Australian mainstream media often report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a way which reinforces negative stereotypes and perceptions.

In many cases, the Australian public’s view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is based on negative media and dominant cultural representations.

Stories about issues affecting non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get national attention more frequently than the same issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ representation in the mainstream media sector means that there’s little to stop the tone of articles from propagating the dominant culture.

There’s a general lack of trust among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people towards large sections of the media due to infrequent and inaccurate reporting.

Throughout 2013-2014, around three-quarters of all media reports on Aboriginal health focussed on the negative aspects. Many contemporary issues which affect all Australians, such as addictions and crime, are highlighted disproportionately when reported about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In the 1990s the Indigenous Land Rights movement became prominent and was often presented negatively by the media. This resulted in a negative backlash against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and perpetuated a feeling of anxiety and frustration regarding the outcomes for other Australians.

Reporting about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the media often negatively ‘frames’ the story (see 'emphasis frames' link below). For example, the story may be about homelessness in general, but the footage or images represent only Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

Issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities sometimes lead to protests and other public events, which are often reported only in light of the disruption they cause to mainstream life (eg. causing traffic chaos).

Fortunately, as awareness and media literacy has grown, some media platforms have begun to present more balanced, appropriate and accurate coverage of issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are also a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander journalists and staff within the media, who are working to reduce bias of many mainstream media.

Mainstream media plays a significant role in how perceptions are created about people and groups. In a connected, fair and just Australia, the media have a responsibility to inform the country about what’s happening in a factually accurate, balanced and appropriate way.

But, it’s important to be aware that media sources often reflect the perspectives of media owners/producers and dominant culture and may present information in a biased way. When analysing a media piece for bias, it’s important to consider what hasn’t been said as well as what has and whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and perspectives have been included.

Worldwide, media tends to sensationalise events and everyday life to attract an audience, and in the process often misrepresents the truth.

How information is reported in Australia often perpetuates stereotypes and negative attitudes towards various cultural groups.

There are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander radio and television stations, newspapers and other media platforms established which present accurate information in a more authentic, positive light (see links below).

There are many ways to respond, including:

Understand that media reports are not always factual; they require critical analysis to determine the credibility, accuracy and potential bias of the material presented.

Seek out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives through alternative, high-integrity media sources.

Ensure that any produced material about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives is based on thorough research. Be alert for inaccurate, stereotypical and culturally biased information.