Indians and the Media

Essay by SteveMcCartHigh School, 11th grade November 2006

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The biggest problems with Aboriginal people gaining widespread acceptance in the Australian community is the negative stereotyping created by the mass media. The average media stereotype of an Aboriginal person is uncivilized, ill tempered, unemployed, violent, and often inebriated. While not all media portray this, the few that do not only have a relatively insignificant influence as their readers and viewers only form a minor percentage of the population.

The items the media publish featuring Aboriginal people tend to generate and reinforce these cultural stereotypes by, practically, exclusively featuring articles that draw attention to Aboriginal people in a negative way, and isolating the Aboriginal community's worst members. This causes the Australian community to generalize all Aboriginal people as subsisting similar to this. In addition, they rarely focus on the positive members of the Aboriginal community and show Aboriginal people in a positive manner. In addition, they rarely illustrate the benefits Aboriginal citizens provide for society.

Articles in popular newspapers featuring Aboriginal people also tend to be prejudiced, biased and misrepresentative. Furthermore, the few that do show the other side of the argument often only mention it at the end of the article, where less than 20% of readers reach. The result is that most people are left with a narrow view of Aboriginal people, as the article does not show the cause of the problem, nor does not show the Aboriginal person's side.

One typical example of an article that is imbalanced is "Children of the shadows", published on page 10 of the Monday May the 12th 2003 Australian. The article highlights one Aboriginal person and this gives the impression that all the "street kids" are Aboriginal, even though there are almost certainly more non-Aboriginal "street kids". The article does not make mention of how the majority of the children came to live on the streets, but instead focuses on a single child with a negative story. What's more, the writer does not try to interview the parents of the child, to see the whole picture. Positive steps that are being carried out are only mentioned at the conclusion of the article. This gives the reader an extremely cynical viewpoint about Aboriginal people.

These negative stereotypes do not merely influence people's outlook on Aboriginal people, but also construct a negative identity for Aboriginal teenagers, possibly leading to the teenagers fulfilling the negative stereotype. Additionally, the negative stereotype means that Aboriginal people experience further difficulty with discrimination, making it more arduous for them to do things, eg find work.

Audiences want to have their views confirmed, not challenged, by a news story, and the media's main desire is to retain their audience as well as attract new audience. The controversy nature of an article creates also appeals to readers. Therefore, the media affirms the current stereotype of Aboriginal people.

There should be a balance between negative and positive articles about Aboriginal people published in the media. What is more, they should try to find the cause of any negative aspect of Aboriginal society. The positive side should also be running throughout the article, so that a person who only reads the first half of an article, to get the general idea of it, will see both sides.

I believe the media should not be biased or opinionated against any group of people, whether they be teens, Asians or Aboriginal people. These three groups are particularly isolated by the media as being the cause of trouble. Bias and prejudice are also specifically against the code of ethics the media has.

However, such changes are highly unlikely to be implemented by the media. The media has created a stereotype of what all Aboriginal people are like, and any view challenging this is likely to be dismissed by narrow-minded individuals, along with the media losing popularity, as audiences want news items that confirm their own belief. Finally, the majority of people enjoy reading or viewing negative stories, as it makes their own problems feel less significant.

Aboriginal people can, however, make a limited change to the negative stereotype that has been created against them. They can do such things as write to the newspapers with letters, telling the readers of the Aboriginal perspective.

Hopefully, people will become more open-minded and liberal as time passes. An example of this is newspapers designed to tell the Aboriginal side of an issue are becoming increasingly popular amongst non-Aboriginals. This will lead to the destruction of the unfavourable stereotype of an Aboriginal person, and allow them the level of social acceptance everyone is entitled to.

The media has built a convincing negative stereotype of what all Aboriginal people are like. Unfortunately, this has been accepted by society, and will take many years, and an active approach from the Aboriginal community, to remove and for Aboriginal people to gain equal opportunity in the widespread Australian community.