Multilingual representation in news, media helps foster audience sense of belonging: SBS, Uni of Canberra study

Multicultural audiences across Australia who feel represented in news media tend to trust it more, a report from SBS and the University of Canberra has found.

The report, called “Sense of belonging among multilingual audiences in Australia”, surveyed around 1,000 respondents across Australia, providing questions in English and in-language for five of the country’s largest language groups – Arabic, Cantonese, Italian, Mandarin and Vietnamese – each chosen to represent a range of migration recency and English fluency.

The report found those who migrated to Australia more than 10 years ago are more likely to feel at home in Australia (76%), compared to those who have been here fewer than ten years (65%). It also found that 86% of multilingual audiences who feel represented in news feel at home in Australia.

The results also showed that a number of respondents also felt their language and culture were not fairly and adequately represented in the news generally, suggesting there was some margin for improvement across the industry.

Multilingual audiences were also found to put more trust in news in general and in SBS News specifically compared to the general population.

Research lead and Professor of Communication at the University of Canberra News & Media Research Centre, Professor Sora Park, said that a sense of belonging is crucial to social inclusion and active participation in society.

“This work represents an important early step in uncovering attitudes among our nation’s ever evolving linguistically diverse communities,” Park said.

“Feeling that they belong to Australian society is important for migrant communities, and this study confirms the role that news plays among multilingual Australians.”

SBS director of corporate strategy Sarah Yassien said: “This rigorous, high-quality research is intended to spark a new type of conversation about how Australians think and talk about inclusion and social participation.

“It also attests to the work we do at SBS, demonstrating that multicultural audiences feel higher levels of representation in SBS News compared to the broader Australian news landscape.”


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