I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Australians are pretty obsessed with themselves. I don’t really mean on a personal level – although in many cases the statement still holds – I mean our media. Watch any Australian news, read any Australian newspaper and everything is about Australians, even the international news.
In a 2012 lecture at The University of Wollongong, Simon Marginson said, “Australians are often too parochial, trapped within an Australian-centred view of a diverse and complex world.” This is a statement that I believe to be extremely true. Take for instance the Australian coverage of any Olympic games. Every broadcast you see or article you read, put out by the Australian media, focuses almost entirely on the Australians that are competing, almost disregarding who actually one or if any records were broken. The same goes for international award shows. The only things we hear about them are which Australians attended and if they were nominated for anything.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it’s all bad. In the event of an international disaster it is important to find out if any Australian were involved, and people obviously want to be informed of local news. The problem is when we only see news if there’s an Australian angle. A lot of international news just simply isn’t reported on if Australia’s not involved. For example if an Australian team is knocked out of a world cup tournament we simply don’t hear about it anymore.
These days I suppose it doesn’t matter as much as everyone has access to the internet and, as such, has access to whatever information they want. I does matter however for the portion of the population that does still receive all their information from traditional media sources. This style of Australian centric news keeps these people uninformed about the world outside of their own country.
Perhaps you could even argue that this narrow world view attained from the news can foster racism and bigotry in its viewers. This kind of news could even lead to a sense of national superiority over other countries simply because it viewers don’t know any different.
I truly believe the answer to almost everything is education. Accurate and diverse education. The news we see in our country currently is not this. It lacks the broadness and depth that allows for educated opinions, especially in regard to international issues and relations. My hope is that with the internet becoming such an important source of education in people’s lives, traditional media will be forced to reflect that in showing more international issues from a non-biased perspective. Or at the very least I hope they tell us who won an Oscars, even if they’re not Australian.
Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents/doc/uow119828.pdf