Visible Minorities

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How do media make use of stereotypes and misconceptions regarding different ethnic groups and visible minorities? What are the barriers to representation faced by such groups and in what ways are they most likely to be represented? This section explores these questions and more.

Media speaks volumes about what is important in a society. George Gerbner of Temple University discusses how portrayals in media can affect how children see themselves and others: he argues that if you are over-represented, you see yourself as having many opportunities and choices while if you’re under-represented, you see yourself as having the opposite.

Objectivity and accuracy are among the most important journalistic values. Consistently, however, Canadian news media has underrepresented and stereotyped visible minority groups.

In the same way that Canadian news reporting does not reflect Canada’s multiculturalism, racial diversity ‹behind the scenes› of news media is similarly disproportionate. In 2006, fewer than 6 per cent of CBC employees were visible minorities. [1] A 2000 study from the University of Laval suggests that more than 97 per cent of Canadian journalists are White. [2]

Much in the same way that visible minorities are under- or misrepresented in news media, visible minorities are not accurately portrayed in entertainment media, which tends to reinforce themes that are conveyed in the news. In Canada, these inaccurate representations are often the result of economic factors that affect which forms of media are broadcast and the types of portrayals they include. Although positive change is occurring, it is important that Canadian media content more accurately and fairly reflect the reality of Canadian multiculturalism.

Since before Canada became a Confederation, visible minority groups have been creating their own media: the first issue of the Provincial Freeman, which was a weekly newspaper edited and published by African Canadians in the Province of Canada West (now Ontario), was first published on March 24, 1854.

Although the benefits of visible minority media are considerable, the creation process can be riddled with challenges.

Broadcasting Act: Canada’s Broadcasting Act, last amended in 1991, outlines industry guidelines for portrayal of diversity.

Diversity in Media Toolbox

The Diversity and Media Toolbox is a comprehensive suite of resources that explores issues relating to stereotyping, bias and hate in mainstream media and on the Internet. The program includes professional development tutorials, lesson plans, interactive student modules and background articles.

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