Monday, August 15, 2011

The Media... A love/hate relationship

Without a doubt, the media has power. Power to communicate, power to influence and power to promote change. The latter is what's been seen with the mass turn out yesterday of over 20,000 Australians nationally, in support of a ban on live export trade.

I can't remember a time in animal welfare history that the public has stood so unanimously and decided on an issue like this, and I thank Four Corners for its media coverage of Lyn White's Animals Australia footage that reported on the cruel and deplorable, not to mention inhumane treatment of cattle being exported to Indonesia. For years a lot of us have already been aware of the treatment of both sheep and cattle being exported to Asia and the Middle-East, however it took that footage being aired nationally on Four Corners to reach the hearts of Australians from all walks of life. After the show aired, streams of responses poured in -letters, emails, phone calls.  This subsequently generated more news coverage on the more commercial stations: 10, 9 and 7, and articles in national newspapers. Awareness soared, outrage grew, the meat and livestock industries for the first time in years grew concerned, and finally, the Government realised that the public weren't going to stop until a call to action on banning live export took place.

From mainstream media the support flowed through to social media, with numerous support pages popping up on facebook that supported the ban on live export and further encouraged public involvement in contacting members of parliament to ask for support on a bill to end live export. Whilst the momentum was strong for a couple of weeks following the Four Corners footage, unfortunately a lot of focus was lost with the subsequent media coverage of the newly proposed Carbon Tax. Following on from that, and a couple of weeks out from the national rally to end live export, certain media channels and newspapers then when on to report that perhaps Lyn White's footage had been a hoax, that she'd paid abattoir workers to intentionally abuse the filmed animals to help her create and fabricate a story! It is that side of the media that forms my hate (or dislike rather, hate is such a strong word!) relationship. The media is never loyal and will always go with what creates a story, disregarding the impact that that story might make on their readers/viewers, some of whom aren't able to decipher between the lines and see truth for what it is.

We who care for animal welfare and animal rights need the media. What ABC did with its coverage of the treatment of Australian Cattle has been incredible, inspiring, and quite frankly long overdue! It's enabled Animals Australia to create more television and radio ads, create more campaign awareness, and show the Australian public what their Government is willingly playing a part in. I hope that this is the start of more media coverage around animal issues, and if it takes shocking and horrific video footage to get the media there, then so be it. I am getting really tired of apathy -it's time for a change and time for the public to see the real treatment of animals.

I hope a change for the better is executed on Thursday, however if it's not it won't be without a concerted effort by thousands of caring Australians and animal-welfare groups like Animals Australia and RSPCA. And, it's a symbol of what power the media can impart, if used correctly.

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