A group of 173 media and communications professionals have signed an open letter slamming The Australian newspaper for publishing a racist cartoon by Bill Leak, implying Aboriginal fathers are drunks who do not know their own children’s names.
In a brief statement published on health blog Croakey, writers, journalists, photographers and artists condemned the newspaper and acknowledged the long history of media perpetuated stereotypes relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The statement reads:
“We are journalists, writers, photographers, artists, publishers and others who work in the media and communications industries. Signatories also include journalism, media and communications researchers and academics.
We condemn The Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets.
We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops.
Among the signatures are a number of prominent journalist and educators including Editor of the Koori Mail Rudi Maxwell, Meanjin editor Jonathan Green, Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism Professor Margaret Simons, as well as Celeste Liddle, Dr Anita Heiss, Jenna Price, and Wendy Bacon.
A number of New Matilda’s columnists have signed the letter, as well as Publisher and Editor Chris Graham.
Croakey are now encouraging further journalist and communication workers to come forward and sign on to the statement. To do so, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Australian has ardently defended not just its right to publish the cartoon, but the content of Leak’s drawing. Editor Paul Whittaker issued a statement celebrating it, while News Corp corporate affairs manager Campbell Reid described the cartoon – and a follow-up in which Leak depicted himself as the victim of a lynch mob – as “the best thing I have read this week”.
Melissa Sweet, the founder of Croakey, said there had been some disquiet within News Corp about the cartoon and the way it had been handled by senior executives. But Sweet said that, as far as she was aware, none of those who had signed the open letter were current News Corp staff members.
Last week, one company which runs advertising in The Australian criticised the cartoon and said it would be considering whether to return to the publication, while SunCorp Bank said it would remove advertising content.
The full list of signatories is below.
- Amy McQuire, journalist
2. Allan Clarke, journalist
3. Dr Justin Coleman, GP, Inala Indigenous Health Service, Immediate past President, Australasian Medical Writers Association
4. Fiona Katauskas, cartoonist.
5. Rudi Maxwell, editor, Koori Mail
6. Kodie Bedford, writer and producer
7. Leigh Dayton, journalist and researcher
8. Dr Michelle Dunne Breen
9. Bjorn Stewart, Actor
10. Celeste Liddle, writer
11. Colin Kinchela, actor and performer
12. Jarni blakkarly, journalist
13. Vernon Ah Kee, Artist
14. Amy Coopes, journalist, Croakey
15. Dr Anita Heiss, author
16. Bronwyn Carlson, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at UOW
17. Dr Tanja Dreher, University of Wollongong
18. Dr Sandy O’Sullivan, Director of Centre for Collaborative First Nations’ Research, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Darwin.
19. Kerry McCallum, News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra.
20. Karen Wyld, freelance writer, author, and admin of #ProjectAntiRacism (@AntiRacismAust)
21. Summer May Finlay
22. Jack Latimore, Indigenous Writer
23. Max Chalmers, Journalist, New Matilda
24. Ben Eltham, National Affairs Correspondent, New Matilda
25. Michael Brull, columnist, New Matilda
26. Jeff Sparrow, journalist, broadcaster
27. Leesa Watego, Iscariot Media
28. Jonathan Green, meanjin editor
29. Clem Bastow, journalist
30. Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Filmmaker
31. Dave Graney, musician, author, broadcaster
32. Jenna Price, UTS academic and Fairfax columnist.
33. Liam McLoughlin, journalist, New Matilda.
34. Jennifer Doggett
35. Richard Bell, artist
36. Marie McInerney, freelance journalist
37. Siobhan McHugh, writer, documentary-maker and Senior Lecturer in Journalism, University of Wollongong
38. Liz O’Reilly, Independent Artist and Educator
39. Dr Sandra R Phillips, Writer and Academic
41. Jim Everett-puralia meenamatta. I am a plangermairreenner man from meenamatta country, NE Tasmania.
42. Felicity Biggins, Lecturer in Communication at the University of Newcastle
43. Fiona Martin, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney
44. Dr Andrew Dodd, Associate Professor and Program Director, Journalism, Swinburne University.
45. Melissa Lucashenko
46. Johan Lidberg, Monash University.
47. Tara Wynne, literary agent, Curtis Brown
48. Wendy Bacon, Contributing editor, New Matilda
49. Jeanti St Clair, Lecturer Media Program School of Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University
50. Jessica Friedmann, writer
51. Dr Meera Atkinson Writer and academic
52. Tanya Ashworth-Keppel, writer and editor
53. Alex McKinnon, journalist
54. John Paul Janke, Indigenous communications specialist
55. Catherine Deveny, writer
56. Bianca Nogrady, journalist
57. Keren Heenan, writer
58. Simon Chapman AO, columnist, The Conversation
59. Linda Doherty, director, communication & leadership, NSW department of Education
60. Michael Meadows, Adjunct Professor Griffith University
61. Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, writer
62. Danielle Binks, author and literary agent (with Jacinta di Mase Management)
63. MJ Leaver, writer
64. Helen Signy, Senior Communications Officer, The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.
65. Dr Beth Spencer, author.
66. Marge Overs, health writer
67. Tracey Johnston, health sector communications professional
68. Jenny Noyes, writer and producer @ Daily Life
69. Amy Gray, writer
70. Keira Jenkins, Journalist, Koori Mail
71. Dr Cristy Clark. Lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University
72. Dr Chelsea Bond, Senior Lecturer, ATSIS Unit, University of Qld
73. Nina Funnell, commentator
74. Angela Romano, QUT
75. Dr Bonita Mason, Journalism Lecturer, Curtin University.
76. Greg Truman, journalist
77. Dr Ruth Armstrong, Moderator, Croakey
78. Melinda Shobrook – Facilitator of Indigenous Rise (a Facebook group).
79. Isabelle Oderberg, journalist and communications professional
80. Kate Doak, Investigative Journalist.
81. Josh Ridgeway, journalist
82. Meg Bastian
83. Dr Thor Kerr School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University
84. Julie Kivuyo
85. Anne Ryden, Lecturer, Curtin University
86. Dr Antonio Traverso, Curtin University
87. (Aunty) Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Wiradjuri poet, artist & activist
88. Angela Dewan, freelance journalist.
89. Michelle Lovegrove, journalist
90. Sophie Black
91. Dr Ray Moynihan, author, medical writer
92. Professor Chris Nash, Monash University.
93. Dr Lesley Russell, writer
94. Sara Saleh, Human Rights Advocate and Artist
95. Angela Schilling, Editor, Five Thousand
96. Ian McAuley
97. Eliza Henry-Jones, author
98. Colin Cowell, Media and Communication Consultant, NACCHO, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Editor, NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper
99. Dr Courtney Pedersen
100. Mark Ragg, Ragg & Co
101. Jane McCredie
102. Dr Christine Black, Gold Coast
103. Jane Armstrong, Lecturer
104. Ruth Dawkins, Tasmanian Writers Centre
105. Lea McInerney, writer
106. Chris Graham, Publisher, New Matilda
107. Wendy Orr, author
108. Associate Professor Liz Byrski, Writer and academic
109. Andrea Dodo-Balu, Curtin University School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts
110. Professor Margaret Simons, Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, and a freelance journalist and author
111. Mark Demetrius
112. Margaret Scheikowski
113. Mitchell Ward, creative director, Croakey
114. Michelle Bui, Research Assistant, Curtin University School of Media Culture & Creative Arts
115. Jenny Fraser, Adjunct Research Fellow
116. Katie Ellis, Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University
117. Kathryn Greenhill, Lecturer in Information Studies
118. Catriona Bonfiglioli, PhD Senior Lecturer Media Studies UTS
119. Professor Anna Haebich, Historian and author
120. Rose Hanley, Roleystone WA
121. Pablo Leighton, Independent researcher / Latin American Research Group Australia
122. Dr David Nolan, Senior Lecturer, Media and Communications, and Research Fellow, Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
123. Faustina Agolley, TV presenter
124. Tom Ballard, comedian
125. Namila Benson, broadcaster/producer
126. Karen Pickering, writer and organiser
127. Ruby Hamad, columnist, Daily Life, SBS Life
128. Scott Edgar, songwriter, Tripod
129. Dr Helen Merrick, Curtin University
130. Shannon Harvey, Journalism lecturer and tutor, Curtin University
131. Kirsten Hudson, Curtin University
132. Michael Keane, South Perth
133. Dr Tama Leaver, Curtin University
134. Dr Liam Lynch, Curtin University
135. Dr Leanne McRae, Curtin University
136. Kenta McGrath, filmmaker and academic
137. Dr Marilyn Metta, Curtin University
138. Jennifer Martin, principal tutor for the Centre for Advancing Journalist at the University of Melbourne, editorial assistant at the Citizen
139. Dr Samantha Owen, Curtin University
140. Suvendrini Perera, John Curtin Distinguished Professor, School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University
141. Dr Joy Denise Scott, Academic
142. Professor Kim Scott, author
143. Dr Greg Watson, Curtin University, WA
144. Dr David Whish-Wilson, Curtin University
145. Irma Woods, Nyungar Research Assistant
146. Jessica Robyn Cadwallader
147. Dr Sukhmani Khorana, University of Wollongong
148. Dr Lisa Slater, University of Wollongong
149. Dr Siobhan McHugh, University of Wollongong
150. Prof Elena Marchetti, University of Wollongong
151. Samah Sabawi, Playwright and Commentator
152. Dr Leah King-Smith
153. Vicki Kyriakakis, writer
154. Meg Madden, Writer and editor
155. Mary Ellen Jordan, writer
156. Holly Ringland, writer, novelist, educator
157. Jacqui Katona, a law student from Djok clan, Kakadu, the Centre for Indigenous Story
158. Debra Jopson, journalist
159. Melissa Sweet, journalist
160. Angela Savage, author
161. Paul Daley, author and journalist
162. Dr Gael Jennings, Honorary Fellow, Centre for Advancing Journalism, The University of Melbourne
163. Jaelea Skehan, writer
164. Dr Stephen Hagan, Editor, First Nations Telegraph
165. Tess Ryan
166. Daniel James
167. Palani Mohan, photographer
168. Eliza Metcalfe, health communications specialist
169. Ross Green, health communications specialist
170. Rob Oakeshott, writer and author
171. Philip Moore, Anthropologist, Curtin University
172. Amber Cunningham
173. Dr Kate Bowles, Media & Communications, University of Wollongong
174. Journalist Bob Beale supports this alternative version:
“We are journalists, writers, photographers, artists, publishers and others who work in the media and communications industries. Signatories also include journalism, media and communications researchers and academics. We condemn The Australian’s publication of Bill Leak’s racist cartoon. Racism damages the health and wellbeing of those it targets. We acknowledge that the media industry has a long history of perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that it is well past time that this stops. We urge the editorial leadership of all Australian media to reflect on the hurt and distress all racial stereotyping causes and to eliminate it from our news and current affairs media.”
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