New tool helps newsrooms find multicultural perspectives

Released on 7th December 2020

The Victorian Multicultural Directory for Newsrooms, officially launches today, providing a resource to newsrooms grappling with contact books that often don’t reflect Australia’s population.

Given our increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse society, the online talent directory will assist journalists in connecting with individuals for stories they are covering across a range of issues and topics.

This resource is a contacts database that will help newsrooms connect with a range of voices and perspectives from culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.

More than 120 individuals from across Victoria with a range of expertise, have signed up to be listed on the directory. Many have also undergone professional media training as part of the project.

Media Diversity Australia (MDA) Director Antoinette Lattouf said the directory was prepared by media professionals who understand tight deadlines and what it’s like to be a time-poor journalist.

“The great thing about this resource is it enables journalists to type in a keyword, a cultural group or a subject matter and they will be presented with people who are keen to engage with the media”.

“It is not just about Indigenous people speaking about Indigenous issues, it can also be an economist commenting on the budget who also happens to be a refugee from Iran or a family law expert who also speaks Mandarin,” Lattouf said.

While the project, led by Media Diversity Australia, thanks to support and funding from cohealth, seeks to address the marginalisation and media representation of diverse communities in Victoria, it can be accessed by journalists working across the country.

cohealth Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz, emphasised the importance of this resource in improving the representation of people of colour and ultimately tackling racism.

“As a community health provider, cohealth is acutely aware of the impact that racism has on individuals’ wellbeing and society at large. People of colour are impacted by Australia’s colonial legacy of racism and this discrimination can be amplified by our news media.

“This directory of interview talent from diverse backgrounds is just one small step to improve representation of people of colour in our society – it’s now up to newsrooms to take up the mantle and use this resource,” Bartholomeusz said.

Earlier this year, MDA in collaboration with four universities, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, and Google News Lab released the Who Gets To Tell Australian Stories report, a landmark study which revealed that more than 75% of presenters, commentators, and reporters on Australian television have an Anglo-Celtic background. It also highlighted how monolithic boards and newsroom leaders are, while providing solutions for change and drawing on international best practice.

The directory is the latest practical tool produced by MDA to help increase representation and accuracy. In 2018, MDA released an Indigenous Reporting Handbook to assist newsrooms covering stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The directory will be updated regularly and if further funding is secured, will be rolled out nationally. Journalists based outside of Victoria, can also connect with the talent listed in this directory.

Any views expressed by individuals sourced from this directory represent entirely their own perspectives and it is important for users to know that they have no formal endorsement by or connection to Media Diversity Australia or cohealth. While we have endeavoured to verify their areas of expertise as at [December 2020], it is important for journalists to do their own due diligence and fact-checking when engaging interviewees.

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More information: Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 / MDA Antoinette Lattouf 0401 638 116

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

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