Film & TV

Nov 1, 2017

Forced error: Aly and allies move against deliberate ignorance in newsrooms

The launch of Media Diversity Australia, a new group calling for more balanced representation in Australian media, has highlighted once again how we have to go.

Irfan Yusuf — Lawyer, author and commentator

Irfan Yusuf

Lawyer, author and commentator

Here’s a brief rundown of Australia’s media diversity over the past 40 years. It starts in 1977, when 8-year-old Irfan Yusuf was forced to watch the news for one hour with his mum. It was Channel 10’s Eyewitness News with a blonde Anglo lady named Katrina Lee accompanied by an Anglo bloke whose name now escapes me. The closest thing to a “woggy” or “desi” looking reporter on that show was Eddy Meyer.

On Monday, I met Eddy for the first time at the Sydney launch of Media Diversity Australia, a new group of young media practitioners who share one thing in common – they don’t look anything like Katrina Lee. Then again, they also don’t look like me or my mum. But they are committed to making sure Australian media, its faces and its stories, are more reflective of the reality of Australia.

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21 thoughts on “Forced error: Aly and allies move against deliberate ignorance in newsrooms

  1. Roger Clifton

    Immediately after World War II, Australian soldiers occupied Hiroshima, and returned home pronouncing it correctly. That is, with all syllables equal, as if it was spelt Hiro Shima. Media too, checked out the phrase books, and pronounced it correctly as well.

    However, in America, malice prevailed and the pronunciation drifted to “hahaROSHima!” Eventually Australian media followed suit, as if they didn’t want to sound like dickheads in the company of their peers. They still pronounce it that way, even though large numbers of them know that it is wrong. Ignorance has nothing to do with it. It is cowardice.

    1. dennis

      Thank you Roger Clifton, Ignorance is cowardice, how true is that.

  2. Michael

    Replace race and nationality with ugly or fat or disabled and the thrust of the article remains the same.

  3. John Newton

    Where do all the blonde female newsreaders come from? Is there a cloning factory somewhere? Couldn’t agree more.

    1. Jude the Obscure

      Presumably blonde from bottles and all trying not to age too obviously. The push to conform to an image is ubiquitous.

  4. mikeb

    I’d be interested in knowing how many “Indonesians” (inverted ccommas because I’m included Aussie born) are studying for their Master of Journalism, Media and Communications at Uni? I know for a fact that where I work any Asian heritage potential journo would be grabbed pretty quickly if they were any good.

    1. Rais

      There should be some who can at least pronounce Indonesian words Mike. My wife and I, both Aussie born and our five Aussie born children can all understand and, to varying extents, speak Indonesian and anyone should be able to learn the pronunciation easily because the spelling is nearly phonetic. For that same reason I can read Turkish aloud quite accurately although I don’t speak the language. Japanese when written in Roman script is also very consistent and sgould be easy to pronounce.

      1. mikeb

        Fair enough. I live in a regional area and the “news” on commercial radio must be mass produced elsewhere because they can’t pronounce local common place names correctly. They probably wouldn’t even know where Indonesia is. I suspect the news editors look for the cheapest “journalist” they can find that can read a script…….

  5. Steven McKiernan

    I remember viewing the excellent foreign correspondent reports of Prakash Mirchandani on the ABC. No mention here.

  6. Derek

    So, how much diversity is there at Crikey?

    1. Rais

      Judging by the staff list at the bottom of the website, all but six of the team are of Asian heritage. Total team being seven. Could Crikey confirm whether any team member is of Indigenous heritage? That should be an aim, not as a token but to get an insider’s view of Indigenous affairs.

  7. Roger Clifton

    Let’s remember that the most of the multi-origin community is on this side of the TV screen, and firstly deserve top quality journos on the other. Betcha the majority of 2EL viewers couldn’t care less what newsreaders looked like, as long as they sound conformably.

    We all know the ABC is infested with barely intelligible Poms. God help us if a thrust for variety sends Auntie off to retrieve even thicker accents from even farther corners of the globe.

    1. mikeb

      “ABC is infested with barely intelligible Poms”?? You are either watching/listening to a different ABC to me or are stuck in a 1950s time warp.

  8. Woopwoop

    Pronunciation is a fraught issue. At some stage, words and names become Anglicised with familiarity. If you insist on the Polish pronunciation of Kosciusko or the French pronunciation of Paris, you come across as a bit of a wanker.
    But personally I cringe at the constant mispronunciation of Chinese, e.g. Xi as in “regime”.

  9. John Hall

    TV management (male dominated) is to blame – it’s all about the ‘look’ and shallow picture bites.

  10. [email protected]

    I come from an Asian background. I speak one Asian language, have studied and spoken two others and a European language also. I agree with most of this. I get incredibly annoyed with the constant execrable mispronunciations of Indonesian place names by Australian journos. I’m appalled at how often newsreaders don’t seem willing even to try to pronounce many names of figures and places from around the globe properly (it’s niño as in ninyo you nongs not neenoo!). But, it seems we persist in repeating the same error time and again. We are getting more diverse, but it seems to my ear that diversity is less likely to be brown, black or yellow faces and voices that would represent our demographic mix than it is likely to include an Irish brogue or American twang. Well past time we addressed this. SBS led the way. Let’s see more.

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