The AOD Media Watch Reference group includes:
- Paul Aiken, Evaluation and Advocacy Team Leader, UnitingCare ReGen
- Dr Monica Barratt, Research Fellow at the Drug Policy Modelling Program, UNSW
- Dr Stephen Bright, Senior Lecturer of Addiction at Edith Cowan University & Adjunct Research Fellow at the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University
- Associate Professor David Caldicott, Emergency Department Consultant, Calvary Hospital, ACT
- Greg Denham, Australian Representative for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
- Jenny Valentish, Freelance journalist
- Matt Noffs, CEO of The Ted Noffs Foundation, NSW
- Michael Miller & Tony Trimingham, Family Drug Support
- Professor Nicole Lee, Director of 360Edge & Adjunct Profressor at the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University
- Dr James Martin, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Macquarie University
- David Taylor, Media Consultant
- Stephanie Tzanetis, Dancewize coordinator, Harm Reduction Victoria
- Gino Vumbaca, President of Harm Reduction Australia
- Dr Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
- Dr Martin Williams, President of Psychedelic Research In Science & Medicine
Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Media Watch is based on the same premise as the ABC show Media Watch. It aims to highlight poor examples of journalism regarding AOD-related issues in the hope that we can assist journalists to report more objectively using science and evidence rather than perpetuating myths, opinions and moral panic. Research has found moral panics in the media can actually be detrimental. Moral panics in the media can actually be detrimental by counter-intuitively leading to increased drug use since it increases the perception that more people are using the drug than actually are. It has also been found to found that moral panics reduce the degree to which some people believe that the drug being reported on is harmful. It also reduces the credibility of AOD information in the media.
Further, poor reporting on Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) issues can perpetuate already entrenched stigma about people who use certain drugs. Such stigma not only limits people accessing healthcare services, but by internalising this stigma, people who use drugs are more likely to feel marginalised from society which can exacerbate their use of drugs and contribute to addiction.
We hope that members of the public, people working in the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) field and journalists alike will utilise the expertise of the AOD Media Watch reference group to assist in deconstructing poor media coverage of AOD-related events.
If you spot a story that you believe contains misinformation or perpetuates the stigma of people who use drugs, then please submit the story to AOD media watch.
We hope to establish an annual awards that will be conferred at an AGM of a state peak body for Alcohol and Other Drugs (AODs). One will recognise excellence in reporting of an AOD issue, while the other will highlight the worst example of AOD reporting for the year.
Guidelines for Authors of AOD Media Watch
AOD Media Watch seeks to foster a spirit of collaboration with the media, to provide constructive feedback, and to be a resource that journalists return to over and over. With this in mind, when writing a response to an article, AOD authors should use this checklist:
- The current focus of AOD Media Watch is on stories that a) stigmatise (such as through language, salacious tone, dehumanisation of subjects) and/or b) misinform (including only providing one side of an argument). Only stories that meet one or both of these criteria will be accepted for a response on AOD Media Watch.
- When you have an idea of what you want to say, contact AOD Media Watch with a brief summary of your main points. Two AOD Media Watch reference group members will assess your proposal against the above criteria to endorse your submission.
- Responses should be no more than 800 words in length and written in a way that the layperson can understand. Once submitted, they must be peer-reviewed by two reference group members before publication. Rather than single out one article/journalist/media outlet, seek to identify a worrying trend and reference a cluster of stories that apply. Link to these and name the outlet rather than the journalist; exceptions being opinion articles, in which instances journalists may be named. Maintain a tone of respect.
- AOD Media Watch is bipartisan and not aligned with any particular political party, so responses should reflect this.
- Not every media outlet has an interest in providing harm-reduction advice, but your response could be an opportunity to provide it.
- Pick your battles. When assessing a misinformation or stigmatising article there will be some really obvious points to hone in on… and then there are the pedantic things that even our own team might not have total consensus on. Making too many points dilutes whatever the most important message is.
- Finally, it’s also good to praise whenever the piece gets something right.
- When your response has been peer-reviewed and is ready to be published, email a copy to the journalist whose stories you referenced. This is out of courtesy and offers the journalist an opportunity to reply, but can also be used as an opportunity to offer AOD Media Watch as a resource for their future articles.
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Disclaimer: These organisations support the AOD Media Watch project in principle, but do not necessarily endorse the options expressed by on the site.