Tag Archives: First Contact

Reflection on First Contact: Flawed But Still Valuable

[No-one else wanted to publish this last week, but it’s still worth saying.]

First Contact - Series Two - Blackfella Films Pty LtdThe 3-part TV series First Contact and its follow-up panel discussion drew some strong responses from indigenous commentators, for example here and here. Clearly some very raw feelings were touched, understandably enough. But the show was not directed to Aboriginal audiences. It was for Whitefellas who know bugger all.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of those, thanks in large part to our miserably deficient media. While I can imagine it is harrowing for Aboriginal people to be walked yet again through the same old same old, here was a media program actually intended to inform the ignorant. By that measure, and despite significant flaws, I think it has a lot of value.

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Not Just “Free” – How About Responsible, Quality Media?

[This was published at Independent Australia 16 Jan]

Most discussions of the roles of media in Australia are painfully narrow and superficial.  Commercial media apologists claim “independence” (from whom?), demand “freedom” (well, but not for the bad guys) and have the gall to talk about “quality”.  A proposal to enforce the most minimal standards on commercial media provoked hysterical indignation at the supposed threat to free speech.  The idea of actually requiring editorial comment to be separated from reporting didn’t get a look in, let alone penalising those who report only a highly biassed selection of the news, or are systematically and deliberately divisive (which is all of them), or who persistently promote falsehoods.

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Quality Media?

[I haven’t been completely idle, just focussing on other things.  This article hasn’t been placed yet, but here it is for now.]

abc logo

Whenever it is proposed to enforce the most minimal standards on commercial media, they erupt in righteous indignation at the supposed threat to free speech, and the need to preserve “independent” and “quality” media.  The recent screening of First Contact by SBS and NITV, and the proposed cuts to ABC and SBS funding, bring the issues of quality and independence into sharp relief.

If the commercial media’s offerings had some serious quality, then shows like First Contact would not be so remarkable, and so much remarked.  Many more of us would already know the gist of what the five participants learnt, in the course of a month’s immersion in Aboriginal Australia.

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