Veteran journalist Stan Grant says media’s coverage of Voice to Parliament ‘terribly predictable’

Veteran journalist Stan Grant says media’s coverage of Voice to Parliament ‘terribly predictable’
  • PublishedOctober 7, 2023

Acclaimed journalist Stan Grant says there “needs to be a reckoning” in the media over its coverage of complex issues like the Voice to Parliament referendum, in his first interview since leaving the ABC earlier this year.

Grant, who previously hosted Q+A, resigned from the broadcaster in August after being subjected to intense abuse on social media.

In an interview with the ABC one week out from the referendum, the veteran journalist said coverage of the referendum had been too simplistic and accused the media of being unable to debate complex issues.

“I think in many respects, sadly, it’s been terribly predictable,” Grant said.

“I think it’s illustrated once again the difficulty of our democracy to deal with the weight of its history, to deal with the unfinished business of our country.”

Grant said the debate around the Voice to Parliament, in the 18 months since it was formally announced at the Garma Festival, had shown that “these things are too big for the media”.

“The media has revealed its shortcomings and that the media is not a place for complexity, truth is too much to be left to television,” he said.

“I don’t think we can squeeze in the fragility of 200 years of this history into a newspaper headline, or television news grab, or a radio interview, or a debate.

“These things are too much for our media and our politics, so we trivialise and we distort and we platform rhetoric and we shout, and we don’t really speak.”

Media is giving animosity ‘a voice’, Grant says

Grant spoke to the ABC in Darwin, ahead of delivering the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture to Charles Darwin University on Friday night.

“Lectures like tonight are my opportunity to speak with love and truth and honesty, and depth and compassion, and to challenge these big ideas in a way that brings weight,” he said.

“So many of the questions that revolve around the question of the Voice and the efficacy of the Voice … are being played out in the Northern Territory.”

Grant rejected the idea that animosity in the Voice to Parliament debate had increased in recent months, instead arguing the media had given it a greater platform in the lead up to the referendum.

He said debate had been too focused on what people disagreed on, rather than seeking common ground.

“I think personally, I think there needs to be a reckoning in media around the destructive tendencies and instincts about what passes for media coverage, and the need for a more constructive approach.”


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