Aboriginal Australian journalist Stan Grant steps down from post after enduring racial abuse

Stan Grant in an emotional final appearance at his show.

Stan Grant in an emotional final appearance at his show. Screenshot from ABC News YouTube video

Veteran Indigenous journalist Stan Grant took a break from his role as program host and columnist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) after he was targeted by racist attacks during the broadcaster’s coverage of the coronation of United Kingdom’s King Charles.

Grant, who belongs to the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people, has been a journalist for over three decades. He was the host for ABC’s current affairs program Q+A and a regular columnist for ABC News online.

Grant wrote on May 19 about the racist vitriol against him and his family following his guesting on a TV panel about the colonial legacy of the British monarchy and particularly its impact on Australia’s aboriginal population. Some conservatives frowned on the timing of the show which was aired hours before the coronation of King Charles.

Grant explained his reason for taking a leave:

I am writing this because no one at ABC — whose producers invited me onto their coronation coverage as a guest — has uttered one word of public support. Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me. I don't hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.

He also reflected on how the “media has turned public discussion into an amusement park” and described social media as a “grotesque burlesque” where “lives are reduced to mockery and ridicule.” He added:

I take time out because we have shown again that our history — our hard truth — is too big, too fragile, too precious for the media. The media sees only battle lines, not bridges. It sees only politics.

I want no part of it. I want to find a place of grace far from the stench of the media. I want to go where I am not reminded of the social media sewer.

During the final episode of his show, he addressed his fellow Wiradjuri people:

To my people – I have always wanted to represent you with pride. I know I might disappoint you sometimes, but in my own little way, I’ve just wanted to make us seen. And I’m sorry that I can’t do that for a little while.

Watch his full speech through this YouTube video:

ABC news director Justin Stevens said he regretted not having come to Grant's defense before and released a statement accusing other media outlets of fueling the hatred against Grant:

The responsibility for the coverage lies with ABC News management, not with Stan Grant. Yet it is he who has borne the brunt of a tirade of criticism, particularly in the usual sections of the media that target the ABC. Reporting on his contribution to the panel discussion has been unfair, inaccurate and irresponsible. It has contributed to fuelling horrendous personal and racial abuse.

During an interview with The Guardian, Stevens accused Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. of leading the pile-on against Grant. But News Corp Australasia chief executive Michael Miller said the charge was “misleading” and “unsubstantiated” and urged ABC “to stop passing the buck and blaming others for its own internal problems.”

On May 22, staff members of ABC in several cities gathered outside their offices to express solidarity with Grant and to protest against racism. The Twitter hashtag #istandwithstan shows the support received by Grant on social media.

ABC managing director David Anderson has formally apologized to Grant.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the union of Australian media workers, noted that the issue should lead to more conversations and actions about protecting journalists from abuse.

We must take this terrible moment to properly grasp what we are facing and to ensure that the workers who tell our stories can continue to perform their vital public service free from abuse and danger.

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