Relationship between media and ethnic minorities


At present, the relationship between the media and ethnic minorities has become a key issue, and a great number of professors have done lots of relatively research on this topic (Entman and Rojecki, 2000). Moreover, media has been argued that they provide an overall negative portrayal of racial minority group. Therefore, this report aims to critically analyze this argument. This study begins with illustrate the theory of ethnic minorities, especially the racial minority group. Then, the media portrayals of the racial were analyzed, which focused on analyzing the Black people and Islam group??s news categories on the basis of research evidences. Finally, this report also points that the journalists who working as the media makers also provide the negative representations of the racial minority group.


Every country or large society contains ethnic minorities. They have their own lifestyle, language, culture and religions, which are distinct from the other communities (Adeno, 2002). Moreover, the social status of the ethnic minority is not only relating to the numerical but also linking to the political power (Cottle, 2000). Specifically, the ethnic minorities have the following features:

  • They have smaller population than the rest of the population of the state
  • They positioned as a non-dominant group in the state
  • They have their own religion, language, culture etc that are different from the national people
  • Their members have a will to continue to have their specificity
  • Their members are not only the citizen of the state, but also belong to the minority (Greenberg and Brand, 1994).

Apparently, they are not having a dominant position, and self-determination is the key issue for them (Cottle, 2000). That means ethnic minorities are a small group of people that have their specific personal behaviours in the state.


At present, there is no conclusion or consensus about how to define, understand and analyse ??race?? (Audrey and Brian, 2005). On the basis of the historical research, ??race?? was marked by their physical or phonotypical appearance that was distinct from the social groups (Levi-Strauss, 1996).Furthermore, Malik (2001) thinks race is a physical form that has some common genetic characteristics of the population. That means racial people are different from the national people in skin colours, beliefs and rituals, language they speak and so on. They are a small group existing in the state and different from the other national people.


The media plays a significant role in providing the representation of the racial minority group to the public (Law, 2002). This part mainly focuses on analysing the portrayals of racial minority that are provided by the media.


Historically, the US news coverage of blacks has charactericticsed as the people were ??lazier, less intelligent, less moral and more prone to crime than Whites?? (Stokes and Reading, 1999, p191). Moreover, as the first West Indian immigrants arrived at Empire Windrush in 1948 and the number of ??Black?? people resident in Britain has increased to more than one million. The word ??immigrant?? has been a synonym for ??Black?? although there has a large number of white immigrations at the same period. Therefore, most people would think about the rise of the ??Black?? people when they see the headline of ??IMMIGRANT BIRTHS UP?? (Bashi, 2004). Moreover, most white people regard dark pigmentation associate with ??dirt, poverty, low social status, low intelligence, animal sexuality, primitiveness, violence and a general inferiority??, due to this the white people also connect immigrants with undesirable behaviours together such as mugging, gangsters, rioters etc (Hartmann and Husband, 1974, p202). Furthermore, a large number of Britain??s mainstream medias portrayal racial minority group in a negative way in the headline:


Obviously, all of these reports indicate that the word ??immigrant?? represents the racial people, and each of the newspaper has used negative words in the headline to describe the news about racial immigrants. As a consequence of this, the readers have built racial stereotype of immigrant reports, which means they form a negative sense of immigrants equal to ??Coloured?? people, and they will think Black or other coloured people when they see the word ??immigration?? (Campbell, 1971). This reader??s negative impression about racial people is due to the large number of negative media coverages. In addition, a survey relates to the reporting of members of immigration shows that 61% of the content was negative (Fowler, 1991). All of these inform that the media exactly provide negative portrayal of racial. Furthermore, Sivanandan (2001) manifested that the media has demonised the Blacks. Because of these negative portrayals of the racial minority group, the audiences will appear racial people when they see the word ??immigration?? in the newspaper or on the television. Dennis and Pease (2000, p21) also mentioned that the news related to immigrants are always bad, for example, a newspaper from New York describe the headline in this way????In December 1993, a Jamaican immigrant killed six commuters and wounded 17 others in a rush-hour massacre.?? That indicates clearly the media connect the racial minority with the negative words ??massacre?? in the headline rather than only describe the event. So, the media has provided a negative representation of the racial minority group.


According to a media research by the US social scientists, the core reports of ??Black?? people in the television and film is usually connect with violence, crime, disease and some other negative words (Anwar and Shang, 1992). For example, a movie named ??Menace to Society?? that made by a Black man, which was full of disservice and negative portrayal of Black men. Additionally, another film ??Colours?? describe Black men as animals and they engage in violent without emotion (Barry, 1993). Furthermore, the programmer of ??Cold Case?? portrayals Black offenders as evil when they have committed a murder, while white offenders were represented as clever even intelligent criminals (Hall, 2008). In terms of television and film, Black men are always portrayaled in a totally negative way, and this has made the audience have a racial stereotype. In addition, compared with the white offenders, black people were always described as stupid offenders in the television or film.

In the US, how the media represent the race minority group has become a key issue. For example, the journalists not only provide the news stories about ??black?? individuals, they also choose examples that will describe the category of ??black Americans?? and be compared to whites images of themselves (Braham, 2007). So, this makes the readers have a negative racial stereotype of race minority group. Moreover, on the basis of two data sets (ABC, CBS, and NBC nightly news programmes taped during January, February, and March, 1990, and a set of full verbatim transcripts of the ABC nightly news for an entire year), the researchers found that the media has represented ??black?? as the source of trouble and the data was shown in table 3.2.1:

This table illustrates clearly about the news coverage of ??blacks??. The most frequent news coverage about ??black?? was crime in the local news press, and the third most common topic related to ??black?? was victims, which indicates ??black?? has a non-dominant status in the state. Moreover, the news coverage relate to crime and victim account for 46.4%, which take nearly half of the reporting portrayal blacks as the threats to American society. Further, according to the data analysis result, almost 60% of news stories focus on negative representing about black events, and also the politics reporting provide non-positive messages for the blacks (Karnig, 2007).

In terms of crime news, there is a significant different between media portrayals on blacks and whites, 77% of news stories about black are concerned with violent or drug crime, while 42% about white crimes (Riggins, 1992). This difference indicates the media portrayal the overwhelming majority of black news stories relate to violent, drug crime or other negative words. Moreover, the local news study found that the blacks are twice more than whites shown in the physical grasp of a police officer (Mirrless, 2006). As a result of this, image of blacks are more threatening than the white because the media reporting.


According to research by Richardson (2004), the data shows that the negative words always appear in the Islam news, which account for nearly 97%. In the USA, the media represent an overall negative image of Islam after 9-11 events. ??Times?? magazine analyses 140 reports (2003 May 5 to November 24) about the Islamic world after the end of the war in Iraq, and describes as a violent terror, ignorance and backwardness of the Islamic world, even portrayal as the birthplace of a devil for Americans (Gerges, 2004). For today??s US and European public, Islam is particular unpleasant news. Moreover, both the media and government portrayal the Islam is a threat to Western civilization (Poole, 2002).

In addition, ??Times?? provides several major themes in the Islam reporting: the first major theme is abouthe terrorist organizations, terrorists, terrorist attacks and counter-terrorism operations, which accounting for 36.4; second major theme post-war situation in Iraq that accounting for 22.9; third theme accounting for 11.4% that relates to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein's sons, atrocities, and the traces of his son and property; and followed by Islamic countries and terrorist organizations (7.9%) and authoritarian backwardness of Islamic countries, as well as the people's tragic life and resistance (5%) (Gerges, 2004). These results indicate that the media nearly provide a whole news stories that make Islam and terrorism together. Furthermore, ??Times?? reports for the Islamic world is always associated with terrorism and tyranny, and the media attempt to summarize the Islamic civilization with ignorance and warlike character. Meanwhile, there is no reporting about the daily life of civilians in the Islamic world (Kandiyoti, 2006). After the 9-11 events in 2001, the whole media institutions in the USA describe Islam in a terrorism image, and almost all the citizen fear of the Islam (Poole, 2002). All these reporting indicate that the media only focus on providing a negative image of Islam to the audiences, which always make Islam connect with terrorism in the news reporting.


Due to the two bombs was exploded in the UK in 1999; the domestic reporting of the riots has increased in the UK (Lewis, 2000). Generally, the domestic reporting such as the Times, the Guardians, Independent and Sun have interpreted ??black?? people associated with conflict, controversy and deviance (Richardson, 2004). Moreover, Hartmann and Husband (1974) found that there always appeared race combined with conflict or violent words in the headlines of press news in those four newspapers. Further, these newspapers have the similarity news coverage, which are immigration, relations between black and white, legialation to control immigration (Braham, 2007). In addition, according to the Leicester University??s Mass Communication research, the citizens pay more attention to consider the threat of the coloured people to them rather than the housing, education and employment about the coloured people. All of these research evidences have confirmed the media reports in the local concentration of ethnic groups described in negative news, and 97% of the news coverage of race links to crisis, violence and other prejudicial words. Even the news end with that the coloured immigrants has given ??us?? a threat (Anwar, 2004). This has proved that the media provide a negative image of racial minority group.

In terms of crime news reporting, the media always show more mug shot of the Black offender rather than the white perpetrators (Entman and Rojecki, 2000).In that case, the continuously negative reporting of Black men will lead the audience have a negative racial stereotype, which associate murder, abduct, rape and other negative word with Black men automatically (Bryant and Oliver, 2009). In terms of the reports of domestic violence, Troyna (1987) shows that the media focus on reporting the result rather than the reason when the news covered of violence between racist offenders and white victims. Therefore, the negative representation of ??racial disturbance?? was made by the media, and the news framework was based on the black presence and the news coverage was full of conflict and tension. In addition, a research about journalists found that they used to make prejudicial stereotypes to portrayal Britain??s minority communities. (Cottle, 2000; Gabriel, 1994; Harmann and Husband, 1974; van Dijk, 1989) In that case, journalists?? stereotypical representation about race minority communities will appear in the press, which lead more and more negative portrayal about racial.


In the United States, due to historical reasons, whites have a relatively higher status rather than other ethnic groups such as the African-American, Asian Americans, and Hispanics etc; therefore the US media are more likely to evaluate other minorities from this white-dominated mainstream culture perspective (Cottle, 1992). In terms of the media, especially the mainstream media, white accounted for the vast majority of journalists for a long time; the proportion of white journalists and commentators is overwhelming advantages in the news and current affairs programs, and it is difficult to see Asia and other minority journalists or reporters during the news or programmes (Fife, 2007). Hence, this imbalance in the distribution of personnel also contributed to the media ethnocentrism. More accurately speaking, that is a white-dominated media culture and perspective (Entman, 1990). Moreover, the worse is that those who live in the United States-led class advantaged groups are difficult to realize the existence of ethnocentrism and impact, and if this trend continues, the spread of sensitivity (sensitivity) would be weakened of other ethnic or vulnerable groups; and also they would be cold or weak outlook for other groups to see the damage. They even thought it was the freedom of the press, information, entertainment, or objective comments about the reporting??s of very serious racial discrimination or personal prejudice (Sonenshein, 1993).For example, the famous CBS radio show host Don Imus has dismissed because he calling a black female athlete "hair volume prostitute" in the program for black college women basketball in 2007.In the last century 90's, another well-known program host Bob Grant was forced to resign because he commentate a black mayor as a "toilet cleaners" (David, 2007). However, these commentators do not think that their remarks would cause great harm to the black community, because they are in mainstream classes (Kanellos, 1994). Hence, this unbalance distribution of the journalists and the inherent racial superiority of white press journalists, will inevitably lead to negative news coverage of the race.


To sum up, according to the above analysis of the researches, it is clearly to see that media really provide negative portrayals of racial minority group. Whether the newspapers, television or website, there always appear the black or Islam news event associated with violent, drug crime, terrorism and other negative words, this inform that the media has represented the black or Islam as a negative image to the audience, even make the audience have a race stereotype, which means the audiences will connect the black or Islam people with the negative words such as immigrations, threat to ??us??, terrible and violent etc automatically. Hence, the media really provide a negative portrayal of racial minority group and even influence the sudience??s image of race people.


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