I am currently writing an essay on war journalism and asylum seekers, and for some strange reason (or not so strange as I am an expert procrastinator) I find it easier to write about my essay than to actually write it. Maybe writing about it will give me the motivation I need to finish it.
Just before Christmas I took a class (my last class!) on war journalism and peace journalism. What is the difference you ask? Well the difference can be summed up in the current, or quite longstanding, coverage of asylum seekers, and the way I think it should be covered. Have you ever noticed that the people interviewed about asylum seekers are very rarely asylum seekers themselves? More often than not it is politicians, and occasionally a professional in the field advocating for better policy and treatment of asylum seekers.
I am so sick of hearing the words ‘waves of asylum seekers’, ‘floods of asylum seekers’, ‘economic migrants’, and the most untrue of the untrue words said: ‘illegal’. How do they get away with it? How does the media keep reporting untruths? How do they only ever provide one perspective, that of the politicians?
Why has events surrounding asylum seekers in Australia been reported in this way for so long? One answer could be the way in which it has been define: as a political issue. This means that it is an issue to be battled between political parties: Labor, The Coalition, and the Greens. When representatives of these three have been interviewed then the journalist may believe s/he has provided an unbiased and balanced version of events. All perspectives have been covered because all political parties have been represented.
If, instead it were identified by the media, the public, and those in power as a humanitarian issue it may lead to a different focus. Focus may shift to humanitarian need, the cause of the need, what can be done to alleviate the suffering of those involved, and how can Australia help? This may lead to a sense of pride in the Australian public rather than one of mistrust and fear. The public would see how they are able to help those in need, there would be a focus on solutions and support, rather than security and fear.