On Tuesday the 11th of May the Melbourne Press Club and the Australian Intercultural Society co-hosted their second Media Iftar dinner at the Graduate House which, sparked a very important conversation between members of Australian media and members of the general public.
The evening was co MC’d by the experienced media professional, anchor, and filmmaker, George Donikian. The Melbourne Press Club CEO Cathy Bryson and AIS’ Executive Director Ahmet Keskin opened the program and welcomed guests.
The iftar dinner featured Dr Nasya Bahfen, senior lecturer at Latrobe University, Steve Carey, partner at Newsflash Media, Christina Zhou, journalist at the ABC as part of an insightful and thought provoking panel discussion titled ‘Examining the unexamined assumptions made in the production and coverage of news’
During the panel discussion, Dr Bahfen remarked the newsroom is dynamic and under pressure to release stories as soon as it happens. However, she did stress it’s always important to be factually correct than to rush a story riddled with inaccuracies. She added news production is heading in the right direction with digital news and podcasts allowing journalists to expand and unpack the issues to provide more clarity around detail.
Christiana shared her experience working in what is possibly ABC’s most diverse newsroom with almost half of the staff from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. She highlighted the benefits of having colleagues to reach out to for context, veracity of information or check the local media of a developing story. Having the ability to have someone with richer cultural understandings or lived experience review stories before publishing allowing for more accurate stories.
Steve described how the newsroom is evolving today whereas when he was in the commercial news media organisations, they were predominantly white men. Gender equality has come through the years as a natural progression but more can be done to include cultural diversity in the media by having young people from a CALD background knock down the doors and present themselves as a professional journalist like the next person.
The panel continued with incredibly some great questions from the audience members regarding current laws in Australia to protect journalist and the need for a new news channel that meets the needs of the younger first and generation migrants.
There were reflections offered from the floor and they pointed to the need to have a multicultural media workforce to reflect the multicultural society we live in and the importance for those vying to carve a career in the media to be treated with respect and look beyond their stereotypes.