Gail Phillips, Murdoch University;
Suellen Tapsall, Murdoch University
During the first half of 2001 a group of researchers at Murdoch University
joined with Norm Taylor, former head of News and Current Affairs at the
ABC, to create a methodology for analysing the shape and substance of
television news. A content analysis database was devised and during a
one month trial in Perth in June 2001 the television news bulletins of
the five networks were collected and analysed in terms of story content;
story duration; story placement in the bulletin; and bulletin structure.
It was hoped that this trial would pave the way for a broader longitudinal
national study comparing news services around the country. Inadvertently
the researchers captured what now appears to be a bygone era, a pre- 9/11
benchmark before the War on Terror domination over the national and international
news agenda. The Living in Harmony project has provided an opportunity
to apply the methodology to an analysis of the amount and nature of reporting
on multicultural affairs in Australia’s television news services.
The original study forms a useful baseline against which to assess multiculturalism
in television news. Not only can we assess the types of stories and the
way they are reported; we can also pose questions such as: How much multicultural
content is there in news now compared to then? Have there been changes
in the sorts of multicultural stories selected and the way in which they
are told? In the post 9/11 world what if anything is happening to the
public face of multiculturalism as reflected in our television news? .