The average news media content is considered to be a good benchmark of how effective a media organisation can be in delivering news and information, according to a new report.
The National Media Monitoring Centre’s 2016 Media Monitoring Report examines media ownership and governance, and how news and the media are represented across Australia.
The study also examined the media’s capacity to communicate effectively across Australia, as well as the impact of the digital divide on media coverage.
The report found the average news content in Australia was in the top 10 percentile of countries globally, according the research.
News media ownership was in a strong position to deliver the best news for audiences, with 92 per cent of Australian news organisations in the bottom 10 per cent.
Media organisations have been accused of covering up and misreporting the scale of the Great Barrier Reef’s bleaching, and the deaths of at least one man, Paul Kelly, in a remote Queensland river.
However, there is growing evidence that the media is working to address the issues of bias, lack of diversity and inequality, among other things, the report found.
In the past two decades, Australia’s media ownership has risen by a staggering 80 per cent, according data from the Institute of Public Affairs.
News organizations, like the ABC, have faced increased scrutiny over their coverage of the Australian Capital Territory’s drought.
“The Australian Capital, which is one of the richest and most vibrant regions of Australia, is the first state in Australia to see its population decline due to a combination of climate change and the high levels of drought, which are now approaching 50 per cent,” the report says.
“As a result of this drought, the population has been at risk of a major decline in income, which could have serious repercussions for the region’s economy.”
The report also highlighted the need for greater diversity in the media, which it said was “particularly problematic for those who have a diverse ethnic background, including Indigenous Australians”.
It also called for the media to make better use of online tools to help them improve their coverage, including an “online community” on Twitter.
The government is currently looking at changes to the National Media Control Code, which would require the media not only to report on climate change, but also the impact it has on Aboriginal people.
However the Australian Press Council has said the code has already been watered down in a way that it is unfair to Indigenous people, particularly as many of them do not use social media.