Media monitoring report by Journalists for Human Rights examines Ontario
media's coverage of Aboriginal people, culture, and issues.
TORONTO, Sept. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - A new study released today by Journalists
for Human Rights, Buried Voices: Media Coverage of Aboriginal Issues in Ontario, shows that media stories about Aboriginal issues made up less than half
of one per cent of media coverage - three years running.
Most of that coverage focuses on crises. And most of the crisis coverage
These are just some of the findings in Buried Voices, which examines the trends, news spikes, and total print and online media
coverage of Aboriginal people, culture, and issues by Ontario-based
media organizations from June 2010 - May 2013.
"This report is the first to track both the quantity and tone of
coverage of Aboriginal issues in Ontario," says Rachel Pulfer,
executive director of Journalists for Human Rights. "The findings are
eye-popping. With less than 1% of coverage going to Aboriginal issues, the need for initiatives that support balanced, fact-based coverage of
Aboriginal communities is clear and urgent - stories that are not just
about crises every two months or so, but more regular coverage that
puts a human face on daily life in Aboriginal communities, and ensures
voices from those communities are informing the public conversation on
how to tackle issues the communities face."
With contributions and analysis from media and Aboriginal experts Duncan
McCue, Jorge Barrera, Mike Metatawabin, Robert Harding, and Cindy
Blackstock, the report is a concise summary of the recent patterns in
media coverage of Aboriginal issues.
The study shows a 29 per cent increase in media coverage of Aboriginal
issues from 2010/11 to 2011/12, and a 61 per cent increase from 2011/12
to 2012/13. Media stories focused primarily on the Attawapiskat housing
crisis and the Idle No More Movement.
As coverage of Aboriginal actions and protests increased, media coverage
that was negative in tone also increased: from 28 per cent in 2010/11
to 33 per cent in 2011/12 to 39 per cent in 2012/13. The study reports
that "the majority of stories that portrayed Aboriginal people in
negative light stemmed from editorials and opinion columns." The issue of negative bias is not a function of reporters reporting
fact-based news from communities - one expert consulted in the report
encouraged more reporting, rather than less. Rather, the report shows
that it is opinion writing and commentary discussing challenges
Aboriginal communities face that tends to cast their issues in a more
negative light - thus influencing the coverage as a whole.
Based on the study results and expert analysis, the report proposes four
practical recommendations for improving relationships between
mainstream media and Aboriginal people, and for improving the quality
of media coverage overall.
The report suggests that journalism schools prioritize teaching ethical
and effective reporting on Aboriginal issues. It invites journalists to
foster deeper relationships with Aboriginal people and communities. It
encourages media organizations to make an effort to create more
opportunities for Aboriginal people to work in media. And it recommends
that media coverage of Aboriginal issues should broaden its scope
Journalists for Human Rights commissioned the study and report to inform
its new Northern Ontario Initiative.
The Initiative will create greater awareness of Aboriginal issues in
Ontario by improving the quality and quantity of news coverage focusing
on Aboriginal issues. The Initiative targets training 30 Aboriginal
people living in remote reserve communities, to produce and sell radio
and print news stories about their communities, and will develop
positive relationships between the media and Aboriginal communities in
Thunder Bay. The project will also host a workshop series in Thunder
Bay for Aboriginal people and journalists that will focus on improved
media coverage of Aboriginal issues in the city.
Buried Voices: Media Coverage of Aboriginal Issues in Ontario can be found here.
Notes for Editors:
Journalists for Human Rights (www.jhr.ca) is Canada's leading media development organization. JHR helps
journalists build their capacity to report ethically and effectively on
human rights and governance issues in their communities. Since 2002,
JHR has trained over 12,000 journalists whose stories have reached over
50 million people.
JHR currently has projects in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Ghana, Tanzania, and Northern Ontario.
SOURCE: jhr (Journalists for Human Rights)
For further information:
please contact Claire Hastings, JHR's Director of Community Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org, 416 413 0240 ext. 206