Australia’s media representation is worse than we all thought — and we all knew it was pretty fkn bad — according to a new report. And it’s actually getting worse.
The report published this week by non-profit group Media Diversity Australia found journalists with Anglo-Celtic backgrounds were “vastly over-represented” on TV. Their representation has increased from 75.8 per cent in 2020 to 78 per cent in 2022, but Anglo-Celtic Australians make up just 50 per cent of our population.
Conversely, almost 25 per cent of Australia’s population is non-European but they only account for 6.1 per cent of news and current affairs program appearances.
Professor Dimitria Groutsis from the University of Sydney’s Business School, who co-wrote the report, said the industry was “not even close” to representing the Australian audience.
The report sampled 25,000 items from 103 news and current affairs programs over a two-week period in June 2022.
The only representation to have improved since the last report came out in 2020 was the proportion of First Nations appearances, up from 1.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent overall. But the report noted this was inconsistent across all networks because the actual number of First Nations reporters didn’t rise, those already on contract just got more air time.
“This suggests that Indigenous representation is concentrated in a relatively small number of presenters and reporters, rather than being spread more broadly,” the report said.
The report also found that, of all the TV networks, Nine was the only one to decrease its representation of Anglo-Celtics on air since 2020.
But the report has been criticised, most notably by the ABC, which put out a written response on Tuesday saying the report wasn’t thorough.
The ABC’s acting head of Indigenous, diversity and inclusion Gavin Fang wrote in the statement the sample size was not large enough to be accurate.
“[It’s] a very small slice. Also, telling Australian stories goes much beyond television news presenters. Focusing exclusively on television excludes the broad output of the Australian media today, across digital, social, audio, radio and video or TV platforms,” Fang wrote.
But Groutsis responded and said the methodology was “defensible”.
“On balance, the outcomes are robust and valid. So from that perspective, that methodological sliver is as close and valid to an outcome as possible,” she said.
“We use the same methodology that we used last time to benchmark the findings. There were criticisms around the methodology last time, probably because the newsrooms didn’t see or hear what they would like to see in here.”
But even *if* it wasn’t the most representative report, the numbers are stark enough to paint a picture of poor media representation and diversity in Australia.