Studies conducted over many years have consistently shown that a significant proportion of Australians hold negative attitudes towards Arabs and Muslims. These attitudes are driven by, among other things, fear of terrorism and anxiety about cultural incompatibility, and a conflation of the Middle East as a region, Arabs as a people, and Islam and a religion. At the same time, Australian news media tends to report on the Middle East and related topics through a narrow frame of conflict, terror and extremism, and often after similarly conflating region, race and religion. Given that much of citizens’ exposure to foreign cultures is through the news media, the negative effect on cross-cultural understanding between Australia and the Middle East caused by such reporting is significant. A range of educational and informational programs, past and present, have attempted to address this problem and disrupt journalists’ cascade of assumptions and conflation of associations, with the intention of inspiring more nuanced, informed and diverse journalism about the Middle East and related matters. This paper presents the findings of research into one such program: a mid-2016 study tour for Australian journalism students to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. At the end of a 17-day professional and cultural program, the participating students returned to Australia with deeper, more critical understandings of the Middle East and related matters across cognitive, behavioural and affective dimensions, along with an intention to use the lessons learned on tour to inform the work they produce throughout their careers.
|Title of host publication||ANZCA Conference Proceedings 2017|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|