Congratulations to Stuff for looking frankly at racism - Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon

Congratulations to Stuff for looking frankly at racism - Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon

December 1, 2020

The Race Relations Commission has thanked the Stuff network of newspapers for taking a courageous stance against racism.

 Stuff has published a frank account of racism in its online and print versions, delivered in small and large towns across Aotearoa.

 The suite of articles cover ongoing, historic negative coverage of Māori, for example, the coverage of the land wars of the 1800s, through to modern issues such as uneven reporting of crime, uplifts of babies by Oranga Tamariki, and modern Māori protest.

 ‘This is a unique moment. Thousands of New Zealanders read their local newspaper over a cup of tea and toast this morning and are seeing for the first time how media reports distort (or negatively shape) Pākehā views of Māori. These are important national but also local stories.’

 The media have an important role to play in shaping public discourse and informing our beliefs in relation to racism and prejudice. Stuff call it a day of reckoning and I’m pleased to see a private business admit and acknowledge the part they played in contributing to people holding racist beliefs and views. That is a sign of maturity. Others should follow.

 ‘If other media companies follow this example, I foresee a time that under the Tiriti o Waitangi model Stuff is promoting, media will also commit to fair coverage of other groups who are marginalised and even vilified in the news: Pacific, Asian, LGBTIQ, disabled, Muslim, etc. 

 In my work with the government on a National Plan Against Racism, I think media is a key setting in stopping the spread of racism. I will be asking other media to look at what Stuff is doing. All traditional media and social media companies have obligations and responsibilities to mitigate against racism.

‘Presenting these honest conversations in both languages is extremely useful for me as a Māori speaker, as I have read the stories and apology, in the Māori language, as can other Māori speakers.

I hope balanced reporting will stop stereotyping. I hope these narratives will help build our nationhood through better understanding, and by changing hearts and minds. 

The articles demonstrate what the future of media can look like in Aotearoa. Whakanuia ngā mahi a Mea. Congratulations to Stuff.’