‘It’s Important To Have Blak Voices’: Why Narelda Jacobs Leading A National News Bulletin Is Monumental

Image courtesy of Channel 10
Narelda Jacobs
As the shuffling of on-air talent continues across major Australian TV networks ahead of the new year, the latest development marks some progress for First Nations representation on screen.
Narelda Jacobs has been announced as the host of Channel 10's new one-hour national news bulletin, 10 News First: Midday.
The Whadjuk Noongar journalist is the first queer, Indigenous woman to host a national news show on the commercial channel, and will begin her role in the new year, as well as continue appearing as a panellist on Studio 10.
"Talk about hitting the ground running in 2023. I’m thrilled to be able to share the world’s big moments on Studio 10, then deliver the day’s biggest headlines on 10 News First: Midday," Jacobs said in an official press statement.
“When viewers stop to catch a breath at midday, I’ll be there with an exciting new national bulletin alongside some of the country’s best reporters.”
The announcement has moved many diversity advocates, with one Indigenous journalist telling Refinery29 Australia "it's important to have Blak voices" on news and current affairs television, now more than ever.
"As Australia prepares for a referendum on constitutionally enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, it's important to have Blak voices at the forefront of coverage to ensure a diversity of First Nations perspectives are covered," she said, asking to remain anonymous.
"Indigenous staff in decision-making roles in newsrooms is the best way to approach Indigenous affairs, and seeing Narelda present Channel 10 news bulletins makes me feel like the broadcaster cares about First Nations voices."
Jacobs joined the Studio 10 team in 2020 after presenting 10 News First Perth for over a decade. She's been very vocal about the need for improved Indigenous and LGBTQ+ representation on Aussie TV, and was the brain behind Dinner Guest, a diverse female-led talk show that was pitched during 10's Pilot Week but unfortunately didn't get picked up.
While the US and UK entertainment industries have a plethora of popular female chat shows, Australia is far behind and it's a gap that Jacobs highlighted to MasterChef's Melissa Leong when she asked her to be part of the pilot.
"She [Jacobs] said, 'Why is it that there's no chat show in Australia that's driven by women of colour, minorities or underrepresented voices and perspectives? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could create that and we could give a platform and amplification to the stories and perspectives that are just really sorely underrepresented in Australia?'," Leong previously told Refinery29 Australia.
Jacobs' new TV role comes after Channel 10 recently revealed that Studio 10 host Sarah Harris would be leaving the morning panel show to replace Carrie Bickmore on The Project, while Channel 9's Today show presenter Allison Langdon will be replaced by Sarah Abo, while she takes over hosting A Current Affair from Tracy Grimshaw.
Two weeks ago a new report examining cultural diversity in Australian news and current affairs TV shows was released.
The Who Gets To Tell Australian Stories? 2.0 report by Media Diversity Australia (MDA) and academics from UTS and The University of Sydney concludes that 78% (up from 75% in 2019) of on-air talent on news and current affairs television are Anglo-Celtic. Meanwhile, only 6.1% are from a non-European background and 5.4% are Indigenous.
These figures were based on 25,000 items broadcast on 103 news and current affairs programs between June 1 and June 14 this year. This included breakfast news, early evening news, prime time news, late night news, weekend news and news updates, and various current affairs shows.
While Jacobs' new gig is very much welcomed, more Indigenous and multicultural representation on-screen is sorely needed and we can only hope this is the beginning of a new chapter in Aussie TV.
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