Content in The Australian for Thursday 2nd April 2015 prompted consideration of method. How to treat articles that mention ethnicity but mostly with other issues? A front page about and large photograph of newly appointed NSW Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian, discussed her career. The article continued on page 4 where it mentioned Berejiklian’s Armenian heritage. A different methodological problem is presented by Greg Sheridan’s opinion piece about President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The striking thing about Sheridan’s article is omission of ethnic factors shaping Obama’s foreign policy. It might be argued that the article should not be tallied because it has no ethnic content. But omissions such as this have likely affected Australian public culture. I shall be taking the approach of including Sheridan’s article as a case of the dog that did not bark, an absence of words that speaks volumes about the mainstream media.
A way to treat this would be to note the mention but not include the article in the count of column inches or go into other content analysis.
Mark Coulton, NSW Political Correspondent. “Berejiklian’s journey: how a banker found herself running a state budget.” And page 4. News. On p. 4 mentions GB’s Armenian descent.
Paige Taylor. “Locals powerless to deal with killer dogs.” News. And page 2. The article begins by noting the Aboriginal identity of an 18 year old woman mauled to death by dogs in the Kimberley.
Sarah Elks. “Nothing Eva didn’t know, but native title justice still a joy.” News. 51.5 col. cms. including photo 13 col. cms. Federal Court justice John Dowsett found in favour of an application for native title by the Gangalidda and Garawa elders of territory on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Elder Eva Gilbert was present at the announcement. It was the 100th finding of native title by the Queensland branch of the Federal Court.
Marie Hogg. “Another step in Ahwang’s cultural journey.” News. 110 col. cms. including 178 col. cm. photo. Reports the graduation ceremony of the NAISDA indigenous dance academy near Gosford. The story features Hans Ahwang, a Torres Strait Islander, one of six graduating. An alumnus of the academy, Stephen Page, now artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, stated that indigenous Australians had much diversity and history that needed to be kept alive in the modern era. That was the mission of the academy, making it a “cultural university” for indigenous Australians. It allowed students to “choose indigenous culture as a career”. Another aim was to culturally strengthen indigenous communities by giving them knowledge from the academy. Ahwang said that he wanted to give back to his people first, to “take care of our culture”. This example of taxpayer-funded ethnic activism was not identified as such in the report
Peter Baldwin. “Where the right to speak is howled down.” Opinion. 190 col. cms. including 34 col. cm. cartoon. Baldwin was minister for higher education, 1990-93, in the Hawke-Keating government. Baldwin criticises anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mob rule at Sydney University, based on a growing affinity between the far left and Islamists. Though touching on the case of Professor Barry Spurr who was suspended for alleged sexist and racist private e-mails, most of Baldwin’s comment defends Israel against leftist and Islamist critics. His remarks turned on a speech by Richard Kemp on 11 March 2015 at the University, which was disrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, part of the boycott and divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to suppress pro-Israel voices. One demonstrator defended the free speech of Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose senior cleric in Australia referred to Jews as “the most evil creature of Allah” who had “corrupted the world” and will “pay for blood with blood”. Baldwin contrasted the BDS criticism of Kemp with their silence concerning Hamas’s stated goal of “exterminating every last Jew on earth’, he alleged. He singled out two Sydney University academics, Jake Lynch and Nick Riemer, as supporters of the BDS campaign. He continued his criticism of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip enclave of Palestinians, arguing that Israel is the most democratic country in the region. Support for Israel in any way can attract censorship. Jewish students at the University are feeling insecure. Anti-Zionism is increasingly a cover for “occulted anti-Semitism”.
Greg Sheridan. “Weakened Obama makes Iran the winner in Mid-East chaos.” Opinion. 102 col. cms. Sheridan criticises the Obama administration for being too soft on Iran, allowing it to expand its influence in the region. Obama is now politically too weak to get controversial legislation approved by Congress. The article does not examine the forces working against Obama, including the Israel lobby which is formidable, especially in the Senate. Sheridan is not blind to ethnic networking, pointing out that Iran has great influence in Iraq due to that country having a powerful Shia community. The article also fails to describe Obama’s ethnic motivation. He is criticised for excessive caution but no mention is made of his black nationalism. Obama was a professional ethnic activist before running for the Senate. Obama’s autobiography details his ethnocentrism and combative attitude towards white people. How can Obama’s ethnic view of the world be ignored in discussing his engagement in an area of foreign policy especially charged with ethnic lobbies? Finally, Hillary Clinton is described as a “serious” foreign minister, not at all an obvious assessment for a conservative commentator to make. This affected naivety is all too typical of Australia’s mainstream media. No wonder the public culture is impoverished concerning ethnicity and nationalism.
Calum Wilson Austin (editor). Entertainment guide. “Lag Meta Aus: Home in the Torres Strait.” Announcement. 4 col. cms. Repeat of the notice for an exhibit at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, of artworks, objects and stories indicating the history and culture of the Torres Strait Islands.
Frazier Moore. “Tweets hound new Daily Show anchor.” News. 68 col. cms. Reports criticism of tweets sent by Trevor Noah, scheduled to replace Jon Stewart on the comedy program the Daily Program (U.S.A.). The article alleges a “backlash” over Noah’s “graphic” tweets that target Jews and women. When announced to follow Stewart, Noah was criticised on the social media network Twitter, for example by comedian Roseanne Barr: “U should cease sexist & anti semitic ‘humor’ about jewish women & Israel”. The article then quotes some of those offensive tweets. In one Noah joked about almost hitting a Jewish kid while driving a German car. He also referred to “Jewish chicks”. He also criticised the largely white American mid-West as ignorant. A writer for the online magazine Slate criticised the Daily Show’s choice of Noah. Noah is described as having a black African mother and a white father, and reflecting the values of “global multiculturalism”.
Summary. The dedicated ethnic stories in this issue of The Australian consisted of two news articles reporting indigenous affairs, a longer-than-usual opinion piece defending Israel and Jews from protests at Sydney university, an opinion piece trying to describe the Obama administration’s Middle East policy without examining ethnic factors, and a report of a comedian’s sexism and anti-Semitism and the criticism he has received. Total ethnic content was 525 col. cms., or 7 per cent of the 18 page news section.