media must unlearn negativity bias

For the Uluru Statement of the Heart to achieve its full potential, the Australian media must unlearn its reliance on conflict.

Indigenous flag outside Parliament House (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Australia’s news media face a profound challenge: can they meet the needs of the national moment posed by the Uluru Statement from the Heart? Or will journalism’s weaknesses drag down the statement’s promise?

Journalism’s core values of truth and truth-speaking should bind the craft easily to the historic mission: strengthening and celebrating the consensus around the national yearning for something better through a Voice and the truth-telling of Makarrata.

Trouble is, this sits at odds with how journalism has taught itself to understand “news” as bent to the bad, with reporting focused on conflict, a “negativity bias” that prioritises process over substance, trees over forest, the Canberra theatre over the real world. You can see that tension reflected in this week’s journalistic struggle to manage the bad-faith demand for “detail” about the Voice.

Read more about the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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