The article Media, Minorities, and Multiculturalism attempts to explain how and why advances in media misrepresentation of minorities continues to be “couched in compromise”, and to distinguish between the concepts of media racism and racist media. This article also tries to draw attention to the complex factors involving media misrepresentation of minorities, and explores the developments in the creation of multicultural media by inclusion in mainstream media and institutional parallels that exist around alternative ethnic and aboriginal media.
There are profound differences between racist media, and media racism. Racist media is media which openly discriminates against people of a certain race or ethnicity, thereby excluding them or denying them of certain privileges, while media racism is reflected in coverage that ignores minorities except in contexts of entertainment or crisis, and depicts minorities are problematic people, and also encoding words that constitute an elite white discourse in perpetrating ideologies consistent with dominant sectors.
The mainstream media have been said to be particularly negligent in engaging with diversity in a constructive way, and failing to put the principles of inclusiveness into practice. Although the goal of the media might not necessarily be to diminish or demean minority men and women, the cumulative impact of miscasting has had the controlling effect of depicting minorities as remote or “removed” people.
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It has been noted that media that depend mostly on advertising for profit and revenue seem to be the least responsive in the area of change and improvement in minority misrepresentation, and news casting has remained a medium of the negative, even though there have been efforts to avert blatant racism. Men and women of the minority ethnicity are still constantly framed as troublesome people, whose demands and concerns are seen as unpatriotic, especially when they entail concessions or costs.
Over time, mainstream media has continued to misrepresent minority men and women at the news-casting level, advertising, TV programming and film making, even though there have been some changes and improvement in TV programming. For example, in countries like the United States and Canada, black and white viewers are having more and more favorite TV programs in common, which is probably because of the use of multi-ethnic casting in TV programs.
Media miscasting tends to portray minorities as invisible, problematized, stereotyped, white washed and miniaturized people. Such an indictment is not entirely true presently, as there have been improvements in the quality of media and quantity of media minority representations.
Also, advances in media representation of minorities are continuously “couched in compromise”, as systematic biases and institutional barriers still exist. In the developing world, media coverage of minorities is miscast because the media is preoccupied with style over substance and with adversity over cooperation. Developing world minorities are mostly ignored or made to seem irrelevant by racist mainstream media, and this has the effect of framing minority peoples as volatile and mindlessly violent, due to the absence of a balanced coverage.
There have been positive advances in ethnic and aboriginal media, due a popular and a booming ethnic market, which is reforming the ethnic media landscape. Ethnic media continues to flourish with as many as 50 radio stations airing non-English language and non-French language programs. Canada is a world leader in aboriginal media, and has many aboriginal radio and television networks, which the people look upon as an emancipatory tool for social, cultural and educational construction.
On the basis that a racist media is one in which racism is institutionalized, it can be said that Canada does not have a racist media. Canada does have human rights laws, federal regulatory bodies, and also industry guidelines that are designed to reject deliberate racism. What Canada can be said to have instead, is media racism because the media is not deliberately racist in their coverage despite the racism existing in the mainstream media on personal and institutional levels.
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