Mark Twain once wrote:
“There are only two forces that can carry light to all corners of the globe. The sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here”.
But what happens when the light no longer shines equally on all Australians, what if the light is simply to highlight disadvantage or cast shadow on injustices in our society.
In 1997 Professor Michael Dodson, the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner presented ‘Democracy, the media and human rights‘ in which he discussed the evolution of the role of media and the impact the media has on shaping individual views, influencing outcomes and dictating directions of debate. This powerful discussion is driven by two strong components:
- Professor Michael Dodson’s own passion for advancing Indigenous Australians and;
- that negative perspectives of Indigenous Australians in society can be changed through positive media.
A barrier for such view is summed up by the 1974 Noble Peace Prize recipient and prominent Irish Government Minister Sean MacBride:
“The freedom of a citizen or social group to have access to communication as both recipients and contributors, cannot be compared to the freedom of an investor to derive profit from the media. One protects a fundamental human right, the other permits the commercialisation of a social need.”
In this age of technology and connectivity; media is very much classed as a social need. A social need for staying up-to-date with events as they unfold as well as an increasing social need to be connected with friends and family across the globe.
So where does this leave the fundamental importance of human rights and the participation in media, at the mercy of the times and trends of a commercialised society? Unfortunately this is true.
Trends and conflict dictate the direction media takes because it is what audiences want but what if trends moved towards positive stories on the great successes happening every day in every community across Australia. What if the mindsets of wider Australia became switched on to the powerful stories being told and re-told throughout Aboriginal Communities.
Professor Michael Dodson acknowledges positive steps have been made since the 1960’s, which he states Indigenous Australian’s…
“Presence in the media was characterised by ‘invisibility’.”
And calls for a continuous evaluation of the relationships between the media and Indigenous Australia.
While society continues to grow and small victories continue to advance our participation in mainstream media it is with optimism, the clouds obstructing the view of wider Australia will be swept away and the light that Mark Twain spoke about will flood the hearts and minds of a progressive Australia.
Check out GenerationOne.org.au for some great stories happening around Australia!
Follow me on Twitter
Title Acknowledgement: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” – Malcolm X