John Menadue. Media failure.

Yesterday I posted a story from ‘a former ABC correspondent’ concerning cutbacks in ABC bureaus, particularly in our region. The post was entitled: ‘The ABC:soft targets and collateral damage’.

Cutbacks at the ABC are a very serious problem and will prejudice Australia’s future in our region. So much of Australian media reflects the pattern laid down more than a century ago and remains heavily dependent on the US and the UK for news and views. These latest developments at the ABC are likely to worsen this dependence on North Atlantic media organisations.  I wrote a blog on this subject on 17 April last year.  Extracts from it are posted below>


Compare the media reports today about bombings in Boston and Baghdad.

We have a deluge of coverage in all media about three tragic deaths in Boston. Australian correspondents in the US have gone into overdrive with stories and pictures of horror and courage.

Today we also have reports of a tragedy in Iraq, a situation we contributed to with our support for the invasion and occupation of that country. Tucked away on page 14 of the Sydney Morning Herald is a report that “at least 37 people had been killed … in nearly 20 separate attacks, mostly bombings” in Baghdad and five other cities. In this year alone, there have been over 1,300 civilian deaths from violence in Iraq.

This contrast in reportage illustrates how our media reflects the pattern laid down more than a century ago and remains heavily dependent on the US and the UK for news and views. An outside and independent observer would conclude that Australia is an island parked off New York/Boston or London

Even the minimal coverage of Europe in Australia, usually reflects the jaundiced views of English media about Europe.

This geographical bias is at the expense of important news and comment about our own region. Unfortunately even the meagre regional coverage is often about the unusual, the exotic or the unpleasant.

Consider the geographic bias of media coverage of some recent events in the last year. These included the extensive, but almost irrelevant coverage of the US Republican primary elections, the saturation of the US presidential election and the suicide of a nurse in the UK as a result of a prank by the Australian media about the British royals. In contrast there was  minimal coverage of some major issues and events in our region – the Chinese National Peoples’ Congress in November last year and the very significant general elections in Japan and in the Republic of Korea in December last year  Blink your eyes and you would have missed the elections altogether.

But the significance of these events was and is profound in shaping our economic and security future. Just consider the current crisis on the Korean peninsula and how critical it is for China, Japan, ROK and ourselves. .

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1 Response to John Menadue. Media failure.

  1. Dr John CARMODY says:

    When the ABC was established, it read its news bulletins from Australian newspapers, which themselves relied overwhelmingly on news reports cabled from Britain. As more and more ABC bureaus are closed, we’re rapidly returning to that atavistic condition. Even now the “European” correspondents are based in London: a British perspective is inevitable, especially since they’re not staffed by people who can read the French and German papers (let alone those from Eastern Europe, Spain, Italy etc.).
    The reporting on the European Union and the state of the various European economies is, accordingly, highly biased.
    And serious reporting from Asia is, as John Menadue says, either non-existent or trivialised. It would, furthermore, be heavily ironic if — following the extent to which health problems in Africa (notably, at present, Ebola) have recently been in the news — the African correspondent were brought home (even overlooking the manifest impossibility that a single correspondent can satisfactorily “cover” that huge and diverse continent).
    We are becoming even more insular that Britain itself — and that’s an extraordinary circumstance. To the extent that we’ll receive news from abroad from the ABC it will be syndicated material from other sources with their own political, economic agendas, limitations and biases.

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