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march in march: why the media silence?

March in March Hobart, Feminist Contingent. Image: Marfi

March in March Hobart, Feminist Contingent. Image: Marfi

March in March happened all over the country last weekend. The initiative is, according to the website ‘a peaceful, non-partisan citizens’ march and rally at Federal Parliament to protest against the current government’s policy decisions that are against the common good of our nation. This signifies the people’s vote of no confidence in policies of the government that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our national heritage.’

The march was a huge success, with over 80,000 attendees country-wide, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that there were as many as 112,000 people attending 20 marches around the country. The marches were peaceful, despite invoking a real sense of displeasure and disapproval regarding the current government.

The march was a real social media success. The event trended on Twitter for nearly the entire weekend, and photographs taken from the various marches and of the various attendees became iconic almost overnight. In particular, the sign which posted its message in an almost crass, yet blatantly funny and overt way, simply reading, ‘RESIGN, DICKHEAD.’

Messages of support both from and to the marchers were prominent across social media networks.

However, beyond these networks and beyond the Internet, the March in March gained little momentum.

Interestingly, the marches received little to no reception from mainstream media outlets. There was little reporting on the various marches country-wide, despite the remarkable number of attendees. If any images were shown on the television, they were brief, fleeting snapshots with little explanation behind the cause, the meanings behind the marches, or even any justification for them being there in the first place. The amount of reporting by large media outlets was minimal; the Sydney Morning Herald piece quoted above was one of the only pieces I could find online by a news source with a genuine, though brief, interest in the reasons and causes behind the march.

Even the Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed the marches as readily as mainstream media has done, stating that the event was of small size – ‘my understanding is that the only big rally in Sydney is the St. Patrick’s Day parade.’

The marches are important to recognise for so many reasons. The first of which is that it is admirable that so many people gave so much of their free time and effort to participate in something so important and so worthwhile for the bettering of Australia as a nation. Each and every single person who participated, no matter their role, ought to be proud of their efforts.

It is also important to recognise that we are incredibly lucky that we live in a country which allows us to have such incredible power of free speech, and the ability to walk down a main street and to be photographed with such provocative signs and not fear for our civil safety. Although it may not seem to be worthy enough of recognition, it is important to acknowledge this element.

Equally important to recognise is the diversity of groups and what they represented who attended these marches. The diversity of issues which the government is not recognising with proper policy and legislation is astounding. There were people marching for marriage equality, industrial relations, Internet censorship (which is where the movement of March in March was born in 2008), environmental issues, asylum seeker policy, the opposition to privatisation of public assets, and, of course, there was a strong feminist contingent across the entire country.

Such a diverse range of issues which are plaguing contemporary Australia, and such a large number of people clearly unhappy with the way that they are being handled by our current government. I think that the March in March clearly deserves more attention and recognition, and more direct action based on their appeals.

One thought on “march in march: why the media silence?

  1. Perhaps I can offer some insight as a journalist.

    Personally, I agree, I wanted to see this plastered everywhere, but my own paper didn’t cover it. We didn’t because we couldn’t source a balancing comment. I’m at a community newspaper, and I can tell you from experience that unless you a major publication, the chance of you being able to get those comments from the PM’s office before deadline is slim to none.

    There’s also the fact that the March was, “We’re angry about lots of things but mainly Abbott is shit.” It wasn’t targeted enough – if the march was against a specific issue, rather than a myriad of them, the media would have been able to focus in on something and source a strong local angle. With that specific focus it also would have been more feasible to source a balancing comment, because it would have been acceptable and appropriate to approach a local member (or the Coalition candidate if they are not in office) for that comment.

    Some of the posters also walked a very fine line between free speech and defamation. Yes, there are ways we can cover ourselves, but journalists have been under attack from all angles lately, and it’s just not a risk a lot of us are willing to take at the moment.

    Does this explanation make it better? No. Is it right? I don’t think so. But that’s the situation from the media’s of the fence.

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