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Why the media downplays Invasion Day

  • 30 January 2020


On Sunday morning, as I was on the tram headed into the Melbourne Invasion Day rally, I sarcastically tweeted that I was 'getting in early' (about one hour before the rally actually started) to announce that the Melbourne rally had approximately 200,000 attendees. I added that I was doing so to beat the media's 'racist underreporting' of the numbers. I then sat back and watched the escalating retweets in the hope that the mainstream media might see the dig and be challenged to do better.

It was mildly amusing to see some people take my tweet seriously and report those numbers onwards despite there being no way my tweet could have been taken as legitimate. I found myself having to correct the record more than once. As it turns out though, given the underreporting of numbers across this country, I could have easily sold that 200,000 people as the people who miraculously disappeared in media coverage.

I've written about this issue before but I have to wonder why, a year or so down the track, it's still a problem. At what point is the media going to realise that the Invasion Day rally — a protest that has been going on in some form or other since 1938 — is not going away and, indeed, is growing? Surely, by now, the media has worked out that the Invasion Day rallies have steadily grown in participation over a few years?

Given that they are now one of the most attended events happening on that day, it's in the media's interest to report them accurately. This participation growth would, for example, suggest a heightened public interest in the Indigenous rights movement. So given that, by which year can we expect some honesty in our media when it comes to the Aboriginal message? 

I'm convinced that the media really don't want to report Invasion Day, as reminding the public to fear Indigenous people and our rights has been their practice for centuries now.

Take, for example, this coverage from Channel 9 covering the Melbourne rally. Not only did it underreport the rally size by a few tens of thousands, they sloppily labelled the rally as a rally to 'change the date' even though all protest information stated otherwise and has done for years. In addition, it made out that protesters in attendance were arrested. In actual fact, there never has been any threat of violence from the continuously