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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Media's Role in Deepening Political Divides - When inciting violence for clicks is protected.

In today's society, the influence of media, both traditional and contemporary, in shaping public opinion and driving political discourse is undeniable. The escalation of political polarisation, particularly in contexts such as the Northern Territory of Australia, provides a compelling case study of how media narratives can not only reflect but actively shape societal divides.

The landscape of media has undergone a seismic shift with the advent of social platforms, amplifying voices and narratives that, in times past, would have remained on the fringes. This democratisation of content creation, while inherently valuable, also presents a complex array of challenges. Media, in its various forms, has the profound power to inform, unite, and divide.

Consider, for instance, the ABC and Four Corners' coverage in the Northern Territory. Their portrayal of events and narratives, particularly those akin to rehashing an event over a decade old with two security personnel acquitted as a 'George Floyd Event', has been accused of seeking to not merely report on but inflame and exploit societal fractures. Such coverage is indicative of a broader trend wherein media outlets, driven by the imperatives of attention and engagement, often resort to sensationalism and reductionism. This approach, while lucrative in terms of viewer engagement, has a pernicious effect on public discourse, deepening divides and entrenching partisanship. In my personal opinion, the five journalists engaged in attempted domestic terrorism through propaganda, using a taxpayer-funded entity to validate their ideology.

The role of media in promoting a narrative of violence and division, as seen in the Northern Territory, is not a standalone anomaly but part of a larger pattern. Across the globe, media outlets, in pursuit of ratings and relevance, often prioritise narratives that amplify fear, anger, and division. This selective storytelling serves to not only distort public perception but also to undermine the very fabric of societal cohesion.

In Australia, and particularly in the Northern Territory, the impact of such media practices is profound. The region, with its unique demographic and historical complexities, is especially susceptible to the polarising effects of sensationalist reporting. The portrayal of Indigenous communities, for instance, is often reductive and stereotypical, ignoring the nuanced realities and perpetuating a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust.

The exacerbation of political polarisation by the media is not merely a matter of biassed or sensationalist reporting. It is also a reflection of a deeper societal despair—a retreat into echo chambers and ideological enclaves facilitated by the algorithm-driven curation of content. Social media platforms, in their quest to maximise engagement, will serve users content that reinforces existing beliefs and prejudices, creating a feedback loop that entrenches division and hinders constructive dialogue.

This phenomenon is not merely a theoretical construct but has real-world implications. For instance, in the Northern Territory, the divisive narrative spread by some media outlets has a real impact on public policy, law enforcement, and community relations. The portrayal of Indigenous Australians, often through a lens of criminality and dysfunction, influences public perception and policy in ways that are seldom constructive and often detrimental. The media portrayal of juvenile offenders detained for their own safety led to massive structural and judicial changes that have exacerbated criminality, rewarded offenders, and led to several public murders.

The media's role in deepening political divides is thus a complex issue, rooted in both the economic imperatives of the media industry and the psychological predilections of consumers. It is a problem that necessitates a nuanced solution—one that involves not only regulatory and industry reform but also a collective reevaluation of consumption habits and cognitive biases. When media companies purposely refuse to provide evidence of alternative views, they must call it an opinion, not promote it as news.

The media's influence on shaping political discourse and deepening societal divides is undeniable. The case of the Northern Territory, with its unique challenges and complexities, provides a stark illustration of the consequences of unchecked sensationalism and partisanship in the media. Addressing this issue requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders—media professionals, policymakers, and the public at large—to foster a more nuanced, responsible, and constructive media landscape. As society grapples with these challenges, the imperative for critical engagement and informed consumption of media becomes increasingly paramount. The path to a more cohesive and constructive public discourse is arduous, but it is a journey that is both necessary and, ultimately, rewarding. If there is no accountability for the incitement of violence by media personalities, then it validates the claim of a two-tiered justice system, and that leads to extremely dangerous consequences. From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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