Jack Latimore is one of the few, perhaps the only, Indigenous writer who has been nominated for the Commentary category of this prestigious award and, significantly, that is exactly what his nominated article spoke about - the need for more Indigenous voices in Australian media.
His article, part of the Guardian's partnership with Indigenous-owned media outlet IndigenousX, was titled 'A lack of Indigenous voices is turning blackfellas off old media'. In it, he spoke about the need for more Indigenous writers to be working in 'old media' spaces and also, for more Indigenous editors and producers to be working behind the scenes to help ensure better quality reporting and representation on Indigenous issues.
Latimore spoke to NITV, telling us that, "It’s a welcome surprise to have the piece acknowledged by a prestigious institution like the Melbourne Press Club, and hopefully it signals the start of something broader. Hopefully we’re about to see a lot more recognition of the important journalism work being done by Blackfellas by other industry award organisations."
"We need to be framing our own stories, attending to our own representation. Because newsrooms to date haven’t done an accurate enough job of it."
The need for increased involvement in media, and other sectors, for Indigenous peoples is not a new issue, and in his article Latimore amplifies a common catch cry in Indigenous affairs across the country - 'nothing about us without us'. “For the last 60-70 years on this continent we’ve had governments and the White public yelling at us to “assimilate”. Well, we don’t want to “assimilate”, but we are keen to “Participate”. This involves Australia’s dominant institutions – of which journalism and news is one – to overhaul their listening practices, to hear what we say instead of talking at us the whole time.”
Although the issue of media representation can seem like a complex one, Latimore offers a fairly straightforward solution to the issue, "As I said in the piece, we need more Blackfellas in senior roles in the dominant newsrooms. We need more Blackfellas in all sorts of roles, but particularly in senior editorial and producer roles. We need to be framing our own stories, attending to our own representation. Because newsrooms to date haven’t done an accurate enough job of it. The reasons for this are varied and complex, but the fix is much simpler. Welcome the participation of more Blackfellas."
Latimore credits the partnership between IndigenousX and the Guardian for being instrumental to his nomination, and suggests that it provides a solid model for decolonising newsrooms and increasing representation, "It’s significant that an institution like the Melbourne Press Club has recognised the importance of the relationship between Guardian Australia and IndigenousX. The collaboration between the two is unique and rightly deserves to be celebrated for enabling new Indigenous voices and perspectives to be heard by the mainstream, broader public. It’s an alternative structure. Everywhere you go you hear Blackfellas talking about the need to change-up and jar institutional structures. To decolonise. Well, IndigenousX and Guardian Australia have done it and are doing it.”
NITV also spoke to Gabrielle Jackson, Opinion editor for Guardian Australia, "It's such a pleasure to work with Jack Latimore. His fearless and insightful opinions are always backed up by meticulous research, and his unique perspective make him a truly original thinker. Jack's thoughtful, nuanced writing is a reflection of his personality. We are very proud of Jack's nomination, and that we are able to help bring so many Indigenous voices to the nation through our partnership with IndigenousX."
Latimore hopes his nomination will help to encourage change in an institution that has for too long ignored Indigenous voices and opinions, “For the last 60-70 years on this continent we’ve had governments and the White public yelling at us to assimilate. Well, we don’t want to 'assimilate', but we are keen to 'participate'. This involves Australia’s dominant institutions – of which journalism and news is one – to overhaul their listening practices, to hear what we say instead of talking at us the whole time.”
Latimore is up against some impressive competition for the award, including Waleed Aly, Tim Colebatch, and Rohan Connolly. Winners are announced next Friday night at the Quills dinner.