It was a moment of reckoning.
One of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous journalists, Stan Grant, turned to a live camera, stern face and barrel of red eyes, to explain why he was walking away from his role hosting a major event at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Was.
It had been a little over two weeks since Grant, a Wiradjuri man, spoke about the impact of colonization on Indigenous Australians during the ABC’s coverage of the coronation of King Charles.
The comments prompted a torrent of bitterness, much of it fueled by repeated criticisms of Rupert Murdoch in Australian outlets.
The inevitable racist abuse on social media that has fallen on Grant and his family has been described as “bizarre” and “incredible”. This led Grant to announce his intention to step back from writing for ABC’s website and hosting its live discussion show, Q+A.
It has sparked renewed discussion in Australia about allegations of racism, harmful media influence, and the institutional timidity of Australia’s public broadcaster in defending its Indigenous staff.
When Grant hosted the show for the last time on Monday night, he bared his soul for half a million to watch. He was not leaving because of the racist abuse he received, but as part of the media, he felt he was “part of the problem”.
Grant said, “I’m not going to walk away for a while because of racism.” “We get this too often. I’m not running because of the social media hate.
“I need a break from the media. I feel like I’m part of the problem. And I need to ask myself how, or if, we can do this better.
“We in the media must ask whether we are truly respecting a world worth living in. Too often, we are poisoned in the blood of our society. I fear the media has no love for speaking to the tender souls of our nation.” or no language.
An important option for Australia
Grant’s bitter truth comes at a pivotal time in Australia’s history.
The nation, which has long struggled to understand the wrongs done to First Nations people, is debating changes to the constitution that would allow a new advisory body to have a voice on matters affecting Indigenous Australians will install
The proposal, known as the Voice, would act as an independent and permanent advisory body to the Parliament and Government of Australia on issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australians are expected to vote in a referendum in late 2023 on whether the constitution should be changed to establish such a body.
The debate has already turned caustic. The conservative opposition has chosen to voice opposition, lamenting the lack of detail and claiming it would lead to a constitutional division of Australians along racial lines. Opposition leader Peter Dutton claimed the referendum would set back the progress of the civil rights movement, represented “a symptom of the madness of identity politics”, and claimed it would “racialize our country again”. Will do
On Monday, just hours before Grant’s live address, Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, issued a scathing response. He accused Dutton of spreading “misinformation and a scare campaign” about Indigenous Voices.
“We’ve heard every bit of misinformation and misinformation and scare campaigns that existed in this debate, in just one speech,” he said.
Grant offered a glimpse Monday into the personal toll of the recent media and social media barrage.
The broadcaster said he had seen the media “lying and twisting my words” since the coronation, attempting to portray them as “hate-filled” and guilty of “defaming Australia”. Did.
He said he and his family were directly targeted and threatened, with his wife mocking him for marrying a Wiradjuri man.
“To those who have abused me and my family. I’ll just say that if your intention was to hurt me, you succeeded, and I’m sorry,” he said.
“I am sorry that I may have given you so much reason to hate me, target me and my family and make threats against me. Forgive me.
“Sometimes we just need to take time. Sometimes our souls hurt and that’s the case for me. I’ve had to learn that patience isn’t always strength. Sometimes strength is knowing when to stop.” Is.”
Dennis Muller, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Center for Advancing Journalism, says Grant’s treatment is a “case study in how content on professional mass media can fuel social media toxicity”.
Grant did not directly accuse mass media outlets of racism. According to Muller, he did not need it.
“The professional mass media’s contribution to the racism he writes about is more subtle,” Mueller wrote for The Conversation, “It is to be found, first, in the singling out of Grant from the other members of the ABC panel, whose discussion has taken place as part of ABC’s coronation coverage, thereby driving Grant away.”
“Professional mass media is well aware that its work can have effects – for good or bad – on those engaged in social media. But it fails to give sufficient weight when making decisions about the portrayal of those Who are vulnerable to being trolled: Women, colour, ethnic and religious minorities.
‘I’m downstairs now. But I’ll get back up
On the morning of Grant’s final appearance on Q+A, ABC staffers across the country rallied in support.
They held signs that read “I stand with Stan” and “we reject racism”.
ABC news chief Justin Stevens spoke to a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the organisation’s headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo.
He said it was time to draw a line in the sand.
“The line in the sand is here, and we will not allow our employees to be subjected to racial abuse, or abuse of any kind. This must stop,” he said.
“I would say, the other sections of the media that play a part in facilitating, encouraging, or drawing attention to this… really need to take a good hard look at themselves and the role they play. “
But ABC management itself faced criticism for taking too long to come to Grant’s aid. Critics say the line in the sand should have been clear long ago.
Grant first took aim at ABC management in the column announcing his decision.
“I’m writing this because no one at ABC – whose producers invited me to be a guest on the coronation coverage – has said a word of public support,” he said.
It’s a problem that some believe has its roots in a lack of media diversity at the ABC and many of the nation’s media outlets.
Usman Farooqui, a journalist who once worked with ABC, wrote husky piece The public broadcaster’s failure to defend Grant called a “disappointing general trend non-white ABC employees have experienced over the years”.
“It may not be obvious to the average audience member, but how ABC publicly defends some of its reporters is different than others, and that distinction routinely lines up across racial lines,” he wrote.
ABC news chief Stevens says he regrets not defending Grant earlier. He also took aim at News Corp Australia for its relentless campaign against the public broadcaster.
Stevens accused News Corp of targeting the ABC because it was “trying to take away [at] People’s sense of trust in what we do because we threaten their business model”.
Despite ABC’s delayed decision to rally to his cause, Grant has left the door open for a return.
His message on Monday was delivered with an air of grace and optimism, despite what he has endured in recent weeks.
“Sometimes we just need to take time out. Sometimes our souls hurt and that’s the case for me. I’ve had to learn that patience isn’t always strength. Sometimes strength is in knowing that When to stop,” he said. “I’m down now, I am. But I’ll get back up. And you can come to me again, and I will meet you with the love of my people.”