From email@example.com Wed May 24 18:47:58 2000
Media Study Finds Newspapers Guilty of Propagating Racist Stereotypes
By Mark Bourrie, IPS, 4 April 2000
OTTAWA, Apr 3 (IPS) - Canada's largest-circulation and most politically influential newspapers are culturally biased and encourage racist stereotypes almost daily, according to a case study on racism and the media.
Of 700 articles from mainstream Canadian newspapers examined by researchers with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, more than 100 had racist undercurrents and reinforced negative stereotypes of minorities, according to Frances Henry, who with Carol Tator did the study.
Using four case studies, the two found hundreds of words, phrases and images which showed racial influences "that remain invisible to (journalists) and media organisations."
"When minorities appear in Canadian (print) media they appear as villains," Tator said at a sparsely-attended press conference held here recently.
The Toronto Sun, recently picketed by Tamil refugees for publishing a controversial article on the Tamil Tiger's alleged Canadian fundraising practices, was the only major Canadian newspaper to carry a story about the study.
"The actual role of the media is to be a frequent purveyor of racist discourse and a vehicle that serves to reinforce racism," Tator said.
Henry and Tator concluded newsrooms dominated by white journalists do not reflect the communities they cover and that allows cultural biases to frequently slip into stories. More than 50 percent of the 4.5 million people in Toronto, Canada's largest city, are first generation immigrants, mainly from Asia, the Caribbean, and southern Europe.
Toronto Sun editor-in-chief Mike Strobel said he did not think city newspapers were racist but agreed that newsrooms need to be more diversified.
"I do agree that newsrooms should be more representative of their community," Strobel said. "But they aren't and that can't be changed overnight. We are working on it," he said.
The 23,000 dollar study found little differences in the coverage by the country's tabloids and quality newspapers.
"I am deeply troubled by the findings of this report, because the print media play an influential role in shaping public opinion," says former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor Lincoln Alexander, chair of the Foundation. "The elimination of racism in the print media must become a top priority for publishers, editors and reporters across the country."
The study was an examination of articles from the past two decades. It focussed on coverage of arts issues, crime, affirmative action in hiring, and immigration. The Foundation funded the research study after identifying an urgent need to examine the portrayal of racial minorities and aboriginal peoples in the media.
In their analysis of hundreds of columns, features and editorials, the authors found that despite the media's claims of objectivity and neutrality, racism regularly finds its way into the language, images and ideas that are presented in English Canadian newspapers. (END/IPS/MC/mb/da/00)
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