Alcohol and Other Drug Media Watch is based on the same premise as the ABC Media Watch television program. It publishes peer-reviewed articles that examine media reporting of alcohol and other drug (AOD)-related issues.
We aim to support journalists to report on science and evidence rather than on myths, unsupported opinions and moral panic. AOD Media Watch seeks to foster a spirit of collaboration with the media, to provide constructive feedback, and to be a resource used by journalists.
Moral panics in the media can counter-intuitively increase interest in drug use by fostering a perception that more people are using drugs than actually are. It can also reduce perceived harm of the drug being reported on. In turn, this reduces the credibility of AOD information in the media.
Further, poor reporting on AOD issues can perpetuate already entrenched stigma about people who use certain drugs. Stigma reduces people’s willingness to access healthcare services for fear of discrimation, and can also make people who use drugs feel marginalised from society. This can exacerbate social problems, health issues and harmful drug use.
Call for submissions
We are always looking to publish new articles from members of the public, people working in the AOD field and journalists alike.
If you spot a story you believe contains incorrect or misleading information (often due to a lack of proper balance), is inflammatory or perpetuates stigma of drug use and people who use drugs then please get in touch. And if you see a story that you feel does an exemplary job of AOD reporting, please also get in touch.
You do not have to submit a fully written piece to AOD Media Watch. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, contact us with a brief summary of your main points.
All submissions will be reviewed by at least two members of the AOD Media Watch editorial board. The aim of this process is to support authors to publish articles that comply with our guidelines. Since each article is the author’s own work, the author decides which suggestions provided by the reviewers they would like to incorporate into their final piece. The final article will be approved by AOD Media Watch’s Editor or Associate Editor.
When your article is ready to be published, the Editor will email a copy to the journalist whose story you referenced. This is out of courtesy and offers the journalist an opportunity to reply.
Guidelines for Authors of AOD Media Watch
In making a submission to AOD Media Watch, please note that articles should meet the following criteria:
- Articles should be no more than 800 words in length and written in a way that a layperson can understand.
- We encourage articles that seek to identify a worrying trend and reference a cluster of stories that apply rather than singling out and naming a journalist. Instead, name the outlet that published the story. We respect that there are some instances in which it may be appropriate to name a journalist, such as in the review of an opinion piece.
- Maintain a tone of respect.
- AOD Media Watch is non-partisan and is not aligned with any particular political party, and articles should reflect this.
- Not every media outlet has an interest in providing harm reduction advice, but your response could be an opportunity to provide this advice and to demonstrate how the journalists might have provided it.
- Pick your battles. When assessing a misinforming or stigmatising article, concentrate on one or two key points to hone in on. Being pedantic about minor things can take the focus away from your argument points that even our own team might not have total consensus on. Making too many points dilutes the most important message/s.
- Finally, give praise where it’s due. We encourage submissions about excellent reporting on drug topics and those that acknowledge the positive as well as the negative. Give credit when a piece gets AOD reporting right – even if you are critical about other aspects!
Dr Stephen Bright, Senior Lecturer of Addiction at Edith Cowan University
Dr Liam Engel, Adjunct Research Fellow at Edith Cowan University
Alex Kalliris, Senior Addictions Counsellor
Associate Professor David Caldicott, Emergency Department Consultant, Calvary Hospital, ACT
David Taylor, Media Consultant
Greg Denham, Australian Representative for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Katie Horneshaw, Op Ed columnist and feature writer
Dr Martin Williams, President of Psychedelic Research In Science & Medicine
Nick Wallis, A/V Producer
Sarah Stivens, Freelance writer and editor
Stephanie Tzanetis, Dancewize coordinator, Harm Reduction Victoria
Dr Alex Wodak, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
Dr James Martin, Associate Professor in Criminology at Swinburne University
Matt Noffs, CEO of The Ted Noffs Foundation
Tony Trimingham, Family Drug Support
Dr Monica Barratt, Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University
Our proud supporters
Disclaimer: These organisations support the AOD Media Watch project in principle, but do not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed on this site.