Declaring Your Vote

Annette Elliott & myself before polling day.
Annette Elliott & myself before polling day.

As journalists we are taught to be apolitical however it does not take long to work out who sits on the left, right or somewhere in between. While impartiality is what is supposed to make us ‘professional’ sometimes it makes me feel like we are inhumane.

In the lead up to the recent South Australian election my company took on a pro-bono project for Annette Elliott and the No Domestic Violence Coalition. We made a series of short viral videos based on the actual stories of women and children who have survived abuse in the home.

Wanting to do more I offered my hand to give them some media advice and used my social networks to raise their profile. But as a journalist that is where it had to end. I felt because I had associated myself so closely with the campaign I could not write a feature about domestic violence policies and each of the parties.

This caused me a real dilemma. Firstly, I have written about family violence in the past so to compare policies would not seem out of place. But because my name had been associated with a political candidate who ran on this agenda suddenly I felt I could not do this.

Yet journalists are forever editorialising their opinions on anything and everything. This is how the status of journalist has migrated to celebrity for some. And the rise of the editorial has influenced straight news to the point it has become had to see stories as objective anymore.

While I know for my own integrity and ethics I did the right thing but I do regret my decision. No one in the media covering the election tackled the issue of family violence. When the Liberal party released a policy on tougher penalties to prevent street violence no one questioned what policies are stopping domestic violence. Even though according to The Advertiser, “Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said late-night violence and public safety was a key issue ahead of the state election.”

With our newsrooms being dominated by men it is hard to get the stories and issues that primarily impact on women on the front page. Sometimes I think only female journalists can change this, and if that means by working in both politics and media, then perhaps that is what it must take.

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