More on screen diversity would help combat racists stereotypes and reduce incidents of racism, says the Multicultural Council of Tasmania.
It comes after a recent report found Tasmania ranked equal worst for onscreen diversity in news and current affairs programs.
The report, conducted by Media Diversity Australia, analysed the last names of reporters, presenters and hosts of news and current affair programs over a two week period.
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Deakin University senior lecturer in journalism and communications Dr Usha Rodrigues, who did the state by state breakdown for the MDA report, said the numbers for Tasmania were quite damning. She said there didn’t seem to be any presenter, reporter or commentator who appears on Tasmanian broadcasts from a non-european or Indigenous background.
“We are not talking about not thinking of merit, that is engaging people just because they are from culturally diverse backgrounds, but what we are saying is there are plenty of students who are coming from the universities that have a culturally diverse background but they don’t have a chance,” Dr Rodrigues said.
She said it would be naive to think problems relating to diversity do not extend to print media.
Since the report has been released large media organisations have questions the methods used to analyse diversity. Organisations, such as Seven and Nine, suggested counting surnames was not an accurate way of telling whether someone was of diverse backgrounds.
Last week in a statement made via news.com.au Seven’s director of news and public affairs also suggested the problem stems from a lack of qualified culturally diverse applicants.
Dr Claire Konkes, the head of the University of Tasmania’s media school, said over the last five years the demographic of students doing media degrees had changed. She said the fact organisations feel like the talent isn’t coming through shows how important representation is.
“The fact that [media organisations] feel that those people aren’t coming through is indicative of the problem because what it means is that young people of diverse backgrounds don’t even see themselves having a role in media,” Dr Konkes said.
“Media should reflect society and it is really unfortunate when people of diverse backgrounds go to their media and they only see one version of Australia it shows that the representation is not working.
“But also if you’ve only got one or two types of people in media and they are making choices about who they talk to, how they talk about things, what they see as important, if you don’t have a diverse range of people in a newsroom or in a media organisation then you have a limited view of the world.”
Dr Konekes said it would be naive to assume that as representation in media courses increase so would representation in the industry. She said organisations needed to actively pursue greater diversity throughout the hiring process.
Multicultural Council of Tasmania chair Waqas Durrani said if people see themselves represented on screens if would help them to pursue careers in the media.
“The more diversity you see the more you realise that our communities are made up of individuals from various backgrounds … that is the strength of Tasmania our diversity,” he said.
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