Image: Filipino broadcaster Erwin Cabucos at the Harmony Day forum in Brisbane, 21 March, 2013. Credit: Alban Vinevel.
Erwin Cabucos, who has a background in newspaper journalism in his original home of the Philippines, had a valid message for the mainstream media as well as ethnic communities wanting to get their stories out.
“Our concerns, celebrations and creations are just as Australian as our white and English speaking counterparts,” he says.
Erwin was speaking at a forum held on Harmony Day in the Brisbane Square Library by the Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland (ECCQ), which took the form of a panel of media industry representatives from mainstream, ethnic and community media organisations.
ECCQ has been supporting communities with diverse backgrounds since 1976, and their website states: “We believe that everyone, no matter their background, should be able to participate and contribute in all aspects of society. We also know that diversity and inclusion builds stronger communities… characterised by cooperation, trust and sharing of cultures”.
Part of how they do this is by providing education and training opportunities to the community, one of most appropriate for today is media training, which has led Samantha Ryan (who is the Media Training Project officer for ECCQ) to organise the Many Stories, One Australia Media Forum.
Chairing the Panel was Dr Angela Romano, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communication at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
On the panel were:
- Erwin Cabucos – Filipino broadcaster on 4EB, who has worked for a bi-lingual newspaper in the Philippines
- Cathie Schnitzerling, Director of News, Channel Ten QLD
- Ursula Skjonnemand, former ABC journalist and Newsroom Coordinator at CitizenJ
- Manju Jehu – Indian broadcaster on 4EB, who has a cooking show about to come out on Channel Ten
The panel gave their advice on how to have more diverse voices heard in the mainstream media and there were several recurring themes, the strongest of which was make sure you put as much work into your brief as you can, because the easier it is to put up the story, the more likely it will be shown.
Another recurring theme was to try to make make contacts as the media is like any other industry, the more people you know, the easier it is the get things done (click the graphic for more of these tips on getting the media’s attention).
On a personal level, the panelists shared some of their experiences and lessons learnt.
Erwin recalls noticing an “absence… of images of Asian or Aboriginals in primetime TV shows, and almost nonexistent stories of coloured people in newspapers” and that there was more to ethnic stories then just boat people, gangs and terrorism, mail order brides and natural disasters.
Cathie told her own story about having a “weird name with a Z in it” and how she spent three weeks as a fresh cadet using ‘Conrad’ as her last name before going back to her real name.
Cathie also shared the formula of a TV news story, which is usually between 1:30-1:50 minutes long, so you only really have 150-180 words to say what you want in the clip.
After telling us that “unless there is spice, nobody cares” in regard to your story needing to have substance, Manju Jehu shared the last piece of advice for the night.
“[You need to] concentrate, focus, [have] vision and be honest with yourself and other people, and people will love you no matter what you do.”
See other stories about Harmony Day 2013.
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