Five out of six major Australian media outlets have substantially imbalanced reporting when it comes to covering the Gaza conflict, new research claims.
Dr Susan Carland of Monash University, examined Instagram posts made by ABC News, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, 9News, news.com.au and The Daily Aus between October 7 and November 7 this year, and found most neglected the Palestinian side of the conflict.
The October 7 attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas that killed 1,200 Israelis kicked off a new round of fighting that has now left 18,000 Palestinians dead, two thirds women and children.
“The research we’ve conducted clearly shows an imbalance between how Palestinian stories are told in the media and how Israeli stories are told in the media,” says Sharara Attai, executive director of Islamophobia Register, which commissioned the research.
“It’s concerning that despite this research being only a starting point, and limited in scope, almost every media outlet that we examined demonstrated a lack of balance in their reporting.’’
Key areas of the research included examining the choice of descriptive language used in the written posts and captions, the use of passive, active or middle voice and the humanisation present in stories (whether a name, photo or quote of the person featured in the story was made available).
The results of the research reveal The Telegraph, The Australian and news.com.au were unbalanced in their use of descriptive terms when reporting on Israel and Palestine.
Despite The Telegraph using terms such as “gruesome”, “massacre”, “harrowing” and “shock” to describe the October 7 attack of Hamas on Israelis, there was no such language used to describe Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
Palestinian people and their plight in Gaza are being systematically dehumanised by large and influential parts of the media.
When discussing the impact on Israeli and Palestinian communities as a result of the ongoing conflict, The Australian used 30 evocative terms to describe the Israeli experience as opposed to only nine for Palestinians.
Out of the six outlets, Dr Carland found only ABC News featured Instagram posts that humanised both Israeli and Palestinian people, providing a name, photo or quote from people featured in their posts.
When assessing how outlets used grammar, only ABC News and The Daily Aus managed to predominantly use active voice to describe attacks committed by both Hamas and the Israeli state.
“Palestinian people and their plight in Gaza are being systematically dehumanised by large and influential parts of the media to their substantial audiences,” Attai said. “Whilst they may appear to just be ‘words’ to some people, the linguistic discrepancies we’ve uncovered in the media actually play a significant role in shaping community attitudes about groups of people.
“Anti-Palestinian racism is a specific and documented form of Islamophobia.”
The Register, which works in partnership with Charles Sturt University, also said, from October 7 to November 24, it had received 288 reports of Islamophobic racism, a 1300 per cent increase on the average pre-October 7.
“With such a massive rise in reported incidents of Islamophobia since October 7th, we take issue with the imbalance of humanising and dehumanising descriptors between the accounts of Israelis and Palestinians,” Attai added.
“It minimises and conceals the Palestinian reality, and leaves doors open for racist behaviour in Australia, as it further perpetuates damaging ‘us’ versus ‘them’ narratives.
“We hope the timely release of this report will allow for media outlets to self-correct as their coverage continues.”
Media balance score card
|Use of descriptive language
|Use of humanising stories
|Use of grammar (specifically voice)
|The Daily Telegraph
|The Daily Aus
Due to some Australian media organisations penalising or discriminating against reporters for complaining about an anti-Palestinian bias in reporting on the conflict, as well as online trolling of student social media accounts, the student who wrote this story has chosen to remain anonymous.
Central News provides a platform for students to write stories they want to write. If any students want to report on the Israeli perspective then we welcome that too. This platform is driven by the students and is for the students. Our aim is to support but also protect all our students.
Main image generated using Gencraft AI.