Photo credit: Amy Hetherington

Matt Heffernan: Sky News, just stahp. You’re doing yourself zero favours.

In BlogX, Change the date, Media, Politics by Jack Latimore

Photo credit: Amy Hetherington

Photo credit: Amy Hetherington

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Matthew is a Pintupi-Luritja/Irish man, hailing from Alice Springs but now calling Darwin home. Matt was awarded a National Scholarship from “Global Voices” (A Non-Government Organisation promoting international diplomacy). This involved undertaking research to develop a paper for publication on “Indigenous Economic Development”. As part of the scholarship Matt travelled to New York City to participate in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where elements of the paper were included in the Global Youth Caucus’ final recommendations to the Forum. Matt is now a fulltime IT student. If you can’t read this just turn it on and off again.

Recently, a wonderful story hashtag-restored my faith in Australia’s mainstream media.  For once it was talking somewhat positively about the homeless Indigenous people of Darwin.  A toddler had – through freak chance– wandered from the family home and was found on the street by a group of Indigenous homeless as they were settling down for the night. The homeless folks ran to the child and cared for it, as others in the group went searching for the parents. Not being able to find the parents they alerted the police who were later able to reunite the child to the family. Hailed as heroes, one of the Indigenous fellas said they just did what anyone else would do, because it doesn’t matter if the child is black or white, there was a child in need.

Enter the parasitic Sky News to politicise an otherwise heart-warming story by retro-editing the comments from the Indigenous gentleman into a story to support Australia Day, AND THEN bookending that with an inane question from the interviewer about whether the gentleman supported Australia Day or not. The gentleman answered in the affirmative.

Just so I’m clear, it doesn’t matter whether the gentleman supports Australia Day or not.  Contrary to what the media would have you believe, Indigenous culture is not monolithic, its expression can be the same between large distances, and/or completely different within proximate tribal groups. In fact, there is a large proportion of Indigenous people of what we would typically call “the left-wing”, who also don’t want to change the date. To be even clearer, regarding the story of a child being rescued, it doesn’t matter what Indigenous folks think about Australia Day, because believe it or not, aside from featuring Indigenous people…, the issues are. Completely. Unrelated.

What does matter is the completely unbalanced and unhinged media saturation of conservative Indigenous voices regarding Australia Day (and most other issues). Like, the brother just saved a baby. Seriously, are our media so desperate for their feelings on Australia Day to be validated that they need to ask the brother about something completely unrelated to, you know, saving the damn child? How the hell can you conflate this story with Australia Day? Would Sky News have aired it if it had contradicted their own position?

As part of every news story now, are we asking every random person about their views on Australia Day and whether the day should change? Why don’t we ask Pommy cricketers how they feel about the day? I mean it is an anniversary that celebrates their countrymen’s arrival here, so it makes sense, right? Why aren’t we asking Ja Rule about his views on Australia Day?

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So deep into the absurdly un-objective has our media ventured, that Channel 7’s Sunrise (now renowned for helping fabricate a race related gang issue, then pretending a known, convicted criminal with delusions of Nazi grandeur has anything worthwhile to add to the issue. Then pretending that they’re some kind of grassroots neighbourhood watch group) featured a debate on the date of Australia Day – brace yourselves–…, with two people who basically agreed on the issue.

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I’m not going to insult your intelligence. We all know what Channel 7 was trying to do. We all know what Sky News was trying to do. It’s the same thing that most of our wonderful right-wing dominated media do whenever Indigenous issues become front and centre in our country.

Sky News was positioning NT Indigenous people as more representative of indigeneity and Indigenous issues than our south-eastern cousins. There’s been a glut of this divisive representation of us in recent weeks. It’s almost as though certain news media and government prefer it if mob is squabbling amongst ourselves.

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