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Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

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Series editor: Stuart Allan
Published titles
News Culture
Stuart Allan
Television, Globalization and Cultural Identities
Chris Barker
Ethnic Minorities and the Media
Edited by Simon Cottle
Modernity and Postmodern Culture
Jim McGuigan
Sport, Culture and the Media
David Rowe
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Buckingham · Philadelphia
Changing Cultural
Simon Cottle
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Open University Press
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First Published 2000
Copyright © Simon Cottle, 2000
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A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 0 335 20270 5 (pbk) 0 335 20271 3 (hbk)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ethnic minorities and the media: changing cultural boundaries/edited by Simon
Cottle. p. cm. — (Issues in cultural and media studies)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-335-20270-5 (PB) — ISBN 0-335-20271-3 (HB)
1. Mass media and minorities. I. Cottle, Simon, 1956 – II. Series.
P94.5.M55 E867 2000
302.2308693–dc21 99-056966
Typeset by Type Study, Scarborough
Printed in Great Britain by Biddles Limited, Guildford and Kings Lynn
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Simon Cottle
Teun A. van Dijk
John Fiske
John Gabriel
Clint C. Wilson II
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Simon Cottle
Herman Gray
Karen Ross
Ramaswami Harindranath
Marie Gillespie
Annabelle Sreberny
Charles Husband
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Simon Cottle is Professor of Media Communication in the Sociology
Department at Bath Spa University College. His books include TV News,
Urban Conflict and the Inner City (Leicester University Press 1993) and
Television and Ethnic Minorities: Producers’ Perspectives(Avebury 1997);
he is co-author with Anders Hansen, Ralph Negrine and Chris Newbold of
Mass Communication Research Methods (Macmillan 1998).
John Fiske is Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wiscon-
sin-Madison. He has written numerous books including Television Culture
(Routledge 1987), Power Plays, Power Works (Verso 1993) and Media Mat-
ters: Race and Gender in U.S. Politics (University of Minnesota Press 1996).
John Gabriel is Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at London
Guildhall University. His books include Race, Culture, Markets (Routledge
1994) and Whitewash: Racialized Politics and the Media (Routledge 1998).
Marie Gillespie is Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology at the University
of Wales, Swansea. She is author of Television, Ethnicity and Cultural
Change (Routledge 1995).
Herman Gray is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California,
Santa Cruz. His most recent book is Watching Race: Television and the
Struggle for ‘Blackness’ (University of Minnesota Press 1995) and he is cur-
rently working on a book about black cultural politics in the US.
Ramaswami Harindranath is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the Uni-
versity of the West of England, Bristol. He co-edited with R. Dickinson and
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O. Linne Approaches to Audiences (Edward Arnold 1998) and he is cur-
rently working on a book about culture in a global perspective to be pub-
lished by Open University Press.
Charles Husband is Professor of Social Analysis and Director of the Ethni-
city and Social Policy Research Unit at the University of Bradford. He has
published widely in the field of ethnicity, racism and the media and edited A
Richer Vision: The Development of Ethnic Minority Media in Western
Democracies (John Libbey 1994).
Karen Ross is Director, Centre for Communication Studies, Coventry School
of Art and Design, Coventry University. She has researched and published
widely on the broad subjects of ‘race’, disability and gender in mass media
and her books include Black and White Media: Black Images in Popular
Film and Television (Polity 1996).
Annabelle Sreberny is Professor at the Centre for Mass Communication
Research at the University of Leicester and was Director (1992–9). Her most
recent books include Women’s Communication and Politics (Hampton Press
1999) and Media in Global Context (Edward Arnold 1997); her current
research explores diasporic consciousness and gender dynamics in the global
Teun A. van Dijk is Professor of Discourse Studies at the University of
Amsterdam. He has written books on text grammar, the psychology of text
processing, and news and racism including News as Discourse (Lawrence
Erlbaum 1988), Racism and the Press (Routledge 1991), Elite Discourse
and Racism (Sage 1993) and Ideology (Sage 1998).
Clint C. Wilson II is Professor of Journalism at Howard University in
Washington, DC. His most recent books are Race, Multiculturalism, and the
Media, written with Felix Gutierrez (Sage 1995) and A History of the Black
Press, completion of work by the late Armistead Pride (Howard University
Press 1997).
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Simon Cottle’s edited collection Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing
Cultural Boundaries constitutes an incisive intervention into a number of
controversial debates about media representations of ‘race’ and ethnicity in
societies such as those in Europe and North America. Each of the eleven con-
tributors engages with a key aspect of these debates from a new vantage
point, showing how the cultural boundaries of identity formation may be
discerned precisely as they are imposed, transformed and contested across
the mediasphere. As the editor makes apparent from the outset, the media
engender an array of crucial sites whereby the cultural dynamics of racial
and ethnic discrimination (frequently characterized as an ‘us’ versus ‘them’
opposition) are being actively invoked in hegemonic terms. At the same
time, however, he points out that these same spaces also can be used to
affirm social and cultural diversity and, as such, help to create the conditions
for the articulation of resistance to these forms of discrimination. It is this
shared concern to examine afresh the fluidly contingent forces of cultural
power being played out in media discourses, institutions and audiences
which lies at the heart of this timely and sophisticated collection.
The Issues in Cultural and Media Studies series aims to facilitate a diverse
range of critical investigations into pressing questions considered to be
central to current thinking and research. In light of the remarkable speed at
which the conceptual agendas of cultural and media studies are changing,
the authors are committed to contributing to what is an ongoing process of
re-evaluation and critique. Each of the books is intended to provide a lively,
innovative and comprehensive introduction to a specific topical issue from a
unique perspective. The reader is offered a thorough grounding in the most
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salient debates indicative of the book’s subject, as well as important insights
into how new modes of enquiry may be established for future explorations.
Taken as a whole, then, the series is designed to cover the core components
of cultural and media studies courses in an imaginatively distinctive and
engaging manner.
Stuart Allan
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An edited volume necessarily incurs many debts of thanks, and this one is no
exception. I would like to thank Martin Barker, Charles Husband and Teun
van Dijk for offering their interest, support and kind words at the outset of
this project. I thank, too, all the authors in this volume for providing their
very different chapters. These collectively represent, I think, some of the very
best, critically engaged, scholarship in this most humanly pressing of fields.
My sincere thanks, then, to all contributors who produced their chapters on
– or even before – time, and I here publicly forgive the laggards among them
who, for reasons not always within their control, began to unhinge my
sanity along the way. Such is the lot of the editor!
Once again, I would also like to say a personal thank you to Professor J.D.
Halloran for all the support and encouragement that he has kindly offered
to me over recent years. His formative influence upon the field of mass com-
munication research and research into issues of media and racism would
here be difficult to overestimate. I would also like to thank all the producers
both past and present of Black Pyramid, an independent film and video col-
lective based at St Pauls, Bristol, for agreeing to share with me their insights
into the problems of making minority television programmes while strug-
gling to make a difference. Thanks, then, to Lorna Henry, Ian Sergeant, Femi
Kolade, Shawn Sobers and Rob Mitchell.
This book, in no small measure, bears the imprint of the series editor,
Stuart Allan, whose editorial talents have effortlessly moved back and forth
between the minutiae of syntax to the book’s abstract conceptualization.
Stuart has also proved to be a dab hand at wielding an axe when necessary,
though mercifully his gentle swing and precision cuts have proved (relatively)
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pain free. I thank Stuart for helping to make this a better book than it might
otherwise have been, and for his consistent support, editorial acumen and
unfailing good humour – all essential qualities in the very best of editors.
Thanks too, to my colleagues at Bath Spa University College, particularly
Rob Mears for his gracious support across the years and Andy Brown for his
theoretical knowledge of all things ‘race’.
Finally, as always, heartfelt love to my family, Lucy, Ella, Theo and Sam,
and to my mother Rita Cottle, for putting up with the often dissociated pres-
ence in their midst.
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Mapping the field
Today in countries such as those in Europe and North America, the relation-
ship between the media and ethnic minorities is typically characterized by
continuity, conflict and change. This book aims to explore the complexity of
this interaction by bringing together a range of the latest findings produced
by some of the leading international researchers in this field – a field, as we
shall hear, which is also essentially contested.
In academic discourse, as in wider society, contending definitions of ‘race’,
‘racism’ and ‘ethnicity’ – to name but a few of the key terms with which we
must grapple – currently struggle for theoretical and political recognition.
These terms and their corresponding theoretical frameworks, sometimes
called the problematics of ‘race’,1variously provide us with the means of
thinking about and/or thinking through some of the most fundamental
categories, distinctions and discriminatory processes that humanity has yet
produced for itself and within which, or in relation to which, many of us
conduct our lives and construct a sense of who we are, where we belong
and where we want to be. Specifically, three general ‘problematics’ currently
contend and debate the field of ‘race’ and ethnicity in terms of ‘race rela-
tions’, ‘racism/racialization’ and, most recently, ‘new ethnicities’. We shall
encounter each in the discussion that follows. Approached through these
frameworks ideas of ‘race’ and ethnicity can be evaluated positively or nega-
tively, seen as imposed from outside or mobilized from within, and
accounted for with reference to deep-seated social inequalities or the pursuit
Simon Cottle
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of cultural differences. Fundamentally, though, questions of ‘ethnicity’ and
‘race’ are about the drawing and redrawing of boundaries.
Boundaries define the borders of nations and territories as well as the
imaginations of minds and communities. By definition, and often by design,
they serve to mark out the limits of a given field, territory or social space.
Depending on where one is positioned or is able to stand – whether inside
or outside, at the centre or on the margins, or perhaps crossing and recross-
ing borders – they serve simultaneously to include some of us, exclude others
and to condition social relations and the formation of identities. Over time,
boundaries can become deeply embedded in the structures and institutions
of societies, in their practices and even in their ‘common sense’. Once insti-
tutionally sedimented and taken for granted, these boundaries all too often
harden into exclusionary barriers legitimized by cultural beliefs, ideologies
and representations. In such ways, the marginalized and the excluded can
become ontologically disenfranchised from humanity, misrecognized as
‘Other’, exploited and oppressed and, in extremis, vulnerable to systematic,
lethal violence.
The media occupy a key site and perform a crucial role in the public rep-
resentation of unequal social relations and the play of cultural power. It is in
and through representations, for example, that members of the media audi-
ence are variously invited to construct a sense of who ‘we’ are in relation to
who ‘we’ are not, whether as ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, ‘colon-
izer’ and ‘colonized’, ‘citizen’ and ‘foreigner’, ‘normal’ and ‘deviant’, ‘friend’
and ‘foe’, ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’. By such means, the social interests mobil-
ized across society are marked out from each other, differentiated and often
rendered vulnerable to discrimination. At the same time, however, the media
can also serve to affirm social and cultural diversity and, moreover, provide
crucial spaces in and through which imposed identities or the interests of
others can be resisted, challenged and changed. Today the media landscape
is fast changing.
Global and local developments in media markets, corporations and
technologies are transforming the media environment, leading to new
possibilities as well as to new forms of containment with respect to the
production, circulation and consumption of media representations of ethnic
minorities. Forces of political deregulation, global competition and the con-
vergence of (digitalized) technologies – principally telecommunications,
computers, broadcasting and satellite and cable delivery systems – have all
reconfigured the global operations, institutional structures and strategic
goals and market capabilities of major media players (Herman and Mc-
Chesney 1997; Mohammadi 1997; Thussu 1998). These same forces have
also contributed to the proliferation of media systems and output, growing
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audience fragmentation and the strategic importance of niche marketing
within and across the borders of nation-states – forces that look set to con-
tinue into the foreseeable future.
Set against this wider tide of strategic corporate change, however, are
the daily encounters and growing (tactical) uses made of new – and old –
interactive technologies of communication by ethnic minority groups
and diasporic communities. Today these communication technologies
include international telecommunications, audio and video cassettes,
mobile phones, mobile music systems, the Internet and email, digital
cameras, photocopiers and fax machines, camcorders, and home-based
computerized music recording and production systems. These time-space
collapsing technologies present new communication opportunities for
embattled and/or dispersed ethnic minorities, not least by helping to sus-
tain subcultures and networks and keeping alive memories and myths of
homelands as well as collective hopes for the future (Sreberny-Moham-
madi and Mohammadi 1994; Gillespie 1995). These technologies facili-
tate instantaneous flows of information and ideas as well as the ritual
exchange of symbols and images, thereby serving to construct and affirm
‘imagined’ – and now increasingly – ‘virtual’ communities.
Between the international media conglomerates and the daily mediated
communications of ethnic minorities, there stands an array of ‘intermediate’
minority media organizations – the minority press, local cable TV stations,
local radio, independent commercial television production companies, com-
munity-based film collectives. These organizations steer a difficult course
between universalist appeals, market imperatives and systems of patronage
on the one side, and particularistic aims, community based expectations and
felt obligations on the other. Taken together they contribute an important,
albeit under-researched, dimension to the communication environment of
ethnic minorities and their struggles for ‘authentic’ and/or pluralistic rep-
resentations (Cottle 1997; Dayan 1998; Browne 1999).
Integral to these struggles are demands that relate specifically to the cul-
tural-politics of representation based on calls for enhanced media access and
recognition, whether in mainstream and/or via minority media and outlets.
Here limited gains, as well as continuing constraints and setbacks, charac-
terize the contemporary ethnic minority media scene. The mainstream
media, though differentiated by medium, outlet, genre and subject interests,
all too often produce shocking examples of xenophobic reporting and racist
portrayal, while often publicly committing to the ideals and practices of an
inclusive multi-ethnic, multicultural society. Institutional inertia, as well as
countervailing tendencies, are at work in the operations and the output
of today’s mainstream media, as are ideas of multiculturalism and the
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representations of white backlash culture. Contradiction and complexity,
continuity and change characterize the media today.
Ethnic Minorities and the Media examines how representations of ‘race’
and minority ethnicity are reproduced, elaborated and challenged within
today’s media. Particular attention is devoted to the forces that currently
shape and constrain their inflection across the media sphere, and how ethnic
minorities themselves respond to, use and deploy media within their every-
day lives, cultures and identities. The subtitle of this book, Changing Cul-
tural Boundaries, deliberately seeks to draw attention to the ways in which
processes of change are currently impacting on the production and reception
of ethnic minority media representations, as well as the necessity for many
of the media’s representational practices to be challenged and changed. No
one can seriously deny the importance, not to say urgency, of this field of
investigation. How could they given the enormity of the human conse-
quences – both historical and contemporary – that ideas of ‘race’ and eth-
nicity have played, and continue to play, in structures of domination and
inequality and in the political mobilization of cultural differences and iden-
Towards new departures
Historically, ideas of ‘race’ developed as a means to differentiate social
groups as biologically discrete subspecies marked out by physical or pheno-
typical appearance, innate intelligence and other ‘natural’ dispositions.
These ideas are generally traced back to the Enlightenment and scientific
attempts to measure, calibrate, typologize and rank people in a hierarchy of
superiority and inferiority. Within the context of western imperialism and
colonialism, such efforts served to naturalize, in the most literal sense of the
term, oppressive social relations. In so doing they sought to legitimize sys-
tems of power and domination – systems that also found expression in the
production and circulation of popular cultural imagery and artistic forms
(Said 1978; McLintock 1995; Pieterse 1995). Today, scholars debate ideas
about ‘race’ in relation to the historical encounters between different
peoples (Jahoda 1999); their ‘disciplinary’ force in legitimizing imperialism
and colonialism (Said 1978); their basis in the philosophical tenets and cul-
ture of Enlightenment thinking (Goldberg 1993); or how they arose through
the contradiction between Enlightenment ideas of equality and the inequal-
ities of capitalist modernity (Malik 1996a). In other words, ideas of ‘race’
are debated not in relation to the discredited reductionism of biology but in
relation to the changing social and discursive formations of history.
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When approached in this way – historically, socially, discursively – we find
that ideas of ‘race’ in fact assume different forms and are intimately
entwined with systems of cultural representation – processes that continue
to this day. Following the Holocaust, the ultimate racist exclusion, the use
of explicit racist language and images within western multi-ethnic societies
is likely to confront public opprobrium. In such circumstances it is under-
standable that essentialist ideas of racial difference may now become re-
coded into more ‘acceptable’ ideas of primordial ethnicity or deep-seated
cultural differences. Here culture itself becomes largely naturalized as the
carrier of collective ancestry, traditions and group/national belonging and
destiny: ‘the concept of race arises through the naturalization of social
differences. Regarding cultural diversity in natural terms can only ensure
that culture acquires an immutable character, and hence becomes a homo-
logue for race’ (Malik 1996a: 150). The ‘new racism’ of public language and
discourse, for example, does precisely this when addressing potential immi-
grants, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers (as well as ethnic
minorities ‘within’ the territorial confines of the nation) as cultural ‘out-
siders’ who do not belong to a traditional (mythical) ‘way of life’ (Barker
1981; Solomos 1986, 1989; Murray 1986; van Dijk 1991; Gilroy 1992).
Confronted by such racism(s) – those that dare not mention their name –
we need to deploy sensitive analytical tools if we are to recover exactly how
racialized and racist meanings are embedded within, and reproduced
through, the discourses, language, narratives and images of media repre-
sentations. We also need to recognize the historically variant forms that
racism(s) can assume, and how these are produced within and through
different state, institutional and everyday practices. And we must also seek
to understand how the ideas and practices of ‘race’ inform, and are informed
by, other forms of social exclusion and oppression – whether those of class,
gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, nation or state. ‘There is considerable his-
torical variation’, as Goldberg writes, ‘both in the conception of races and
in the kinds of social expression we characterise as racist’ (Goldberg 1990:
295). Essentialist ideas of (demonized) national character and (tribalized)
ethnic differences are often mobilized by state and media in times of war and
conflict, further illustrating how racist discourses are not necessarily con-
fined to minorities or need necessarily depend on the physical markers of
skin colour (Allan 1999; Allen and Seaton 1999; Beattie et al. 1999b).
Racism, then, remains an imperializing and opportunistic discourse capable
of accommodating all. These issues are disturbing and should challenge us
all to take very seriously indeed the media’s representations of ‘race’ and
ethnic minorities. They do not exhaust, however, the complexities of the
interactions between ethnic minorities and the media.
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The contributors to this collection seek to engage, for the most part,
with the changing relationship and interactions between ethnic minorities
and the media in the United Kingdom and in the United States. This is
deliberate. As the opening statement to this introduction suggests, the
relationship between media and ethnic minorities is characterized by com-
plexity, and one way of opening this up to considered discussion is to focus
on particular contexts – especially when seeking to identify and theorize
new developments and how these depart from previously established
research findings. Both the UK and the US have established research tra-
ditions in media research, and both have generated considerable research
in the field of ethnic minorities and the media – which is not to suggest, of
course, that important work has not been produced elsewhere. Strong par-
allels (as well as differences) exist between these two countries with
respect to the multi-ethnic nature of their societies and in the encounters
of ethnic minorities with the media – reflecting histories of enforced and
voluntary minority settlement, systems and structures of inequality and
political struggles for change (Small 1994; Parekh 1997; Stone and Lasus
A detailed comparative study of the changing cultural politics of ethnic
minority media representation in both the UK and the US has yet to be
written. The research studies presented here demonstrate that strong par-
allels do indeed exist and that findings, theoretical discussion and
methodological frameworks generated in one national context often have
relevance in another, whether in respect to changing representations,
changing contexts of production, or changing cultures of identity, and
how each separately, and in combination, register and contribute to
changing cultural boundaries. Many of the chapter contributions also
have relevance of course for those studying the minority media fields in
other multi-ethnic, inegalitarian and increasingly media-dependent
societies. Whether focused on the globalizing practices of transnational
media corporations, diasporic and transnational communities and/or
fundamental questions of minority ethnic media access and representation
these concerns, by definition, transcend narrowly conceived national bor-
ders and may well ‘travel’ and speak to other minority experiences and
contexts. It is hoped that readers of this collection, wherever they are
based, will be stimulated to ponder, discuss and even better still to study
and research for themselves the extent to which the ideas and findings
advanced by the different authors on these pages in fact apply to their own
situations and changing cultural boundaries.
Each of the chapters that follow is written by a leading researcher in the
field, draws upon their latest research and thinking, and can be read as a
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self-contained and authoritative statement demonstrating new research
departures. When read together, however, this collection also encourages
you to situate each of these insightful discussions in relation to each other,
in relation to the wider processes of change (and continuity), and also in
relation to past research frameworks and findings. To this end each of the
chapters that make up the rest of this book shall be introduced so as to
highlight their distinctive contribution to the wider research field.
Changing representations
Today researchers make use of powerful theoretical frameworks and
sophisticated tools of analysis. Varieties of neo-Marxism, multiracial femin-
isms and post-colonial studies, for example, all currently inform and con-
tend with both established and emergent approaches to the study of the
media including political economy, sociology of organizations and profes-
sions, cultural studies, discourse analysis and new audience studies. The
theoretical encounters within and between these respective approaches often
produce lively, sometimes acrimonious, debates centring on fundamental
questions of knowledge, epistemology, methodology and the role of politics
in academic study. Like all fields of academic endeavour with direct political
relevance, such contestation is hardly surprising, nor should it necessarily be
lamented. The clash of frameworks and methodologies can prove useful in
staking out a field of shared concern and can also help to push the bound-
aries into new and productive areas.
Frameworks and debates help guide the questions asked by researchers
and the approaches that they adopt, and they also help to ‘test out’ the
robustness of research procedures, the validity of research findings, and the
political relevance of the work undertaken. That said, when confronted by
the array of approaches currently debating the essentially contested field of
‘race’ and ethnicity, it is perhaps all too easy to lose sight of the common
ground, as well as some of the more fundamental differences structuring
the debates and disagreements. Here we can refer once again to the wider
problematics of ‘race’ and how each has informed research agendas and
priorities and helped to conceptualize different objects of inquiry. Their
influence can be detected throughout much of the research field now sub-
ject to review.
Over recent decades, a considerable body of research conducted in both
the UK and the US has examined the media’s representations of ethnic
minorities. The collective findings of this research effort generally make for
depressing reading. Under-representation and stereotypical characterization
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 7
within entertainment genres and negative problem-oriented portrayal within
factuality and news forms, and a tendency to ignore structural inequalities
and lived racism experienced by ethnic minorities in both, are recurring
research findings.
In Britain in the late 1950s through to the 1970s, for example, studies
observed how immigrants were reported in relation to the so-called ‘race
riots’ of 1958 (Miles 1984), public health scares (Butterworth 1967), prob-
lems of ‘numbers’ and tensions of ‘race relations’ and how this effectively
concealed problems of British racism (Hartmann and Husband 1974; Hart-
mann et al. 1974; Critcher et al. 1977; Troyna 1981). In the 1970s and
across the 1980s, studies of news, and other factuality genres, identified the
ways in which a ‘moral panic’ orchestrated around ‘mugging’ (Hall et al.
1978), the portrayal of street violence (Holland 1981) and inner city dis-
orders served to criminalize Britain’s black population and ignored con-
tinuing social inequalities and growing anger at policing practices and
harassment (Sumner 1982; Tumber 1982; Joshua et al. 1983; Murdock
1984; Burgess 1985; Downing 1985; Hansen and Murdock 1985; Solomos
1986, 1989; Cottle 1993a). In the 1980s and 1990s, studies have charted
virulent press attacks on anti-racism campaigns, the vilification of black rep-
resentatives and the support given to statements of ‘new racism’ by promi-
nent politicians, as well as xenophobic reportage of refugees and migrants –
actively disparaging attempts to further multicultural and anti-racist agen-
das (Murray 1986; Gordon and Rosenberg 1989; van Dijk 1991; McLaugh-
lin 1999; Philo and Beattie 1999). Across the years, numerous studies have
also observed the media’s use of stock stereotypes of black people as
‘trouble-maker’, ‘entertainer’ and ‘dependant’ (Hartmann and Husband
1974; Barry 1988; Twitchin 1988; Hall 1990a).
In the US in 1968 the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
published its report into the causes of the major ‘disturbances’ that erupted
across many US cities (Kerner 1968). In an oft-repeated passage it stated:
The Commission’s major concern with the news media is not in riot
reporting as such, but in a failure to report adequately on race relations
and ghetto problems . . . In defining, explaining and reporting this
broader, more complex and ultimately far more fundamental subject
the communication’s media, ironically, have failed to communicate.
(Kerner 1968: 382)
More recently, bell hooks maintains,
there has been little change in the area of representation. Opening a
magazine or book, turning on the television set, watching a film, or
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looking at photographs in public spaces, we are most likely to see
images of black people that reinforce and reinscribe white supremacy.
(hooks 1992: 1; see also Martindale 1985; MacDonald 1992; Corea
1995; Ramaprasad 1996)
These and many other studies, then, provide us with evidence of the gen-
eral patterns, impoverished representations and sometimes starkly racist
portrayal found in both the UK and US mainstream media. As general find-
ings, however, these may suggest a relatively static and uniform picture of
ideological or representational closure and, in consequence, cover over his-
torical processes of change. Studies are now beginning to recover, for exam-
ple, how the changing ideas and political agendas of ‘assimilation’,
‘multiculturalism’ and ‘anti-racism’ have informed the development of TV
representations across the years (Daniels and Gerson 1989; Pines 1992;
Daniels 1994; Ross 1996; Bourne 1998) as well as those of the press
(Wilson and Gutierrez 1995) and cinema (Shohat and Stam 1994). The
influence of ‘liberal’ TV producers (Seymour-Ure 1974; Braham 1982) as
well as ‘responsible’ newspaper journalists and newspapers (Paletz and
Dunn 1969) have also been observed to have contributed to, respectively,
the downplaying of white racist fears and the selective curbing of sensa-
tional press treatments of civil disorder. These studies point to further
representational complexities and differences in and across the media. And
we must also note the limited but real advances in ethnic minority media
presence in recent years, whether in respect of TV genres of light entertain-
ment, comedy and advertising in the UK (Givanni 1995; Hall 1995; Beat-
tie et al. 1999a), or successful ‘soaps’ based on black characters in the US
(Downing 1988; Jhally and Lewis 1992; Gray 1995), as well as in the com-
mercial crossover (and commodification) of the ‘black culture industry’
more generally (Cashmore 1997). These, too, are important features of
ethnic minority representation.
Today, studies increasingly deploy an array of textual methods of analysis
when examining the myths, narratives, discourses and language embedded
within media representations of ‘race’. The work of Mercer (1994) and Hall
(1997), for example, demonstrates how recent images of black bodies often
deliberately ‘embody’ ambivalent meanings that play on ideas of cultural
difference, stereotypes and intertextuality prompting readings that go
‘against the grain’. Other studies also generally detect at least some discur-
sive contestation and/or challenge to dominant viewpoints across main-
stream genres and within minority media outlets whether, for example, in
‘raced’ representations of urban disorders in the US (Gooding-Williams
1993; Fiske 1994a, 1994b; Jacobs 1996; Hunt 1997) or the portrayal of
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inner city ‘riots’ in the UK (J. Lewis 1982; Burgess 1985; Hansen and Mur-
dock 1985; Cottle 1993a).
To be clear, none of the above suggests that dominant views of ‘race’ no
longer inform media representations or serve to ‘racialize’ media events –
they most certainly do – but rather that this outcome is precisely that, an
outcome which has to be secured and managed if definitions, interpretations
and prescriptions are to be effectively imposed on such ‘events’. In other
words, media representations of ‘race’ are a product of social and discursive
processes mediated through established cultural forms; they are not a fore-
gone conclusion and they most certainly are not beyond challenge or
Sensitized to the textual forms and discursive nature of media represen-
tations, recent studies have tended to reflect the growing influence of cultural
studies and the wider linguistic (and cultural) turn in contemporary social
theory. Here empiricist ideas of representation and ‘ideology’ have become
increasingly challenged by approaches exploring the ways in which ‘reality’
is constituted (and/or known) within language, discourse and represen-
tations. Approached in such discursive terms, representations do not so
much ‘distort’ reality as productively provide the means by which ‘reality’ is
actively constructed and/or known (whether via ‘social realist’ or ‘social
constructionist’ epistemologies). While this culturalist turn has helped to
sensitize many to the discursive forms in which ‘reality’ is literally made to
mean or ‘signify’, a strict adherence to structuralist (and post-structuralist)
preoccupations with language, texts, signifying systems or ‘regimes of truth’
must always, according to its critics, collapse into forms of textual deter-
minism, cultural relativism and political idealism (Ferguson and Golding
1997). For these commentators, the culturalist analysis of ‘texts’ should be
integrated into a deeper appreciation of the ‘contexts’ of production and
reception and becomes fatally undermined if permanently severed from the
sociological (empirical) analysis of social relations, unequal life chances and
the wider play of power.
Drawing a theoretical line in the sand an influential variant of cultural
studies theorizes popular culture as the terrain on which, and through
which, hegemonic struggles for consent are ideologically conditioned and
discursively played out and thus seeks to keep both the interactions (and
‘articulations’) of the ‘cultural’ and the ‘social’ in view (Hall 1980b, 1999).
British cultural studies in the 1970s and 1980s through its reworking of
European structuralisms (Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes) and variants of
Marxism (Voloshinov, Thompson, Williams, Gramsci, Althusser) has
proved to be extraordinarily influential (Hall 1980a, 1980b), and its ideas
have informed analyses of media representations of ‘race’ (Hall 1978; Hall
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et al. 1978; Gilroy 1987; Hall 1990a, 1992c). Policing the Crisis (Hall et al.
1978), for example, had sought to analyse how black youth had become
criminalized and symbolized as a new ‘folk devil’ by the media in the ‘mug-
ging’ scare of the early 1970s. This ‘moral panic’, it was argued, helped pave
the (ideological) way for a new form of state ‘authoritarian populism’ (neo-
conservative politics) that itself was a response to processes of national econ-
omic decline and growing political dissensus. This analysis relating
representations of ‘race’ to wider state interests and processes of ideological
reproduction has proved seminal though its explanation of the exact
mechanisms linking media institutions, professional practices and cultural
representations to political forces of change may now appear under- (or
over-) theorized and in need of empirical support.
Recent studies in the US (discussed further below) have made similar con-
nections between ‘media events’ and deep cultural anxieties around issues of
‘race’ (Fiske 1993, 1994a, 1994b; Reeves and Campbell 1994; Hunt 1997,
1999). These studies generally observe how ‘raced’ media events serve con-
servative political projects but may also sustain counter-hegemonic dis-
courses. Studies such as these, then, remind us how media representations
can both register and contribute to the shifting political-cultural climate of
‘race’ – a conflictual and contested terrain that by definition is constantly on
the move. Today this terrain increasingly accommodates ideas of ‘multi-
culturalism’. In my study of a UK regional television news programme, for
example, I observed how ethnic minorities are now often portrayed in delib-
erate ‘multiculturalist’ ways through a (superficial) focus on cultural festi-
vals, individual success stories and the cultural exotica of ethnic minority
cultures (Cottle 1993a, 1993b, 1994). These representations are examined
with reference to the established conventions of this particular news genre
with its populist pursuit of positive stories and ‘celebratory’ features around
lifestyle and consumption, as well as a growing multicultural sensibility
inside the newsroom. Despite the best intentions of the producers, such
‘multiculturalist’ representations, I argued, may actually serve to reinforce
culturally sedimented views of ethnic minorities as ‘Other’ and simul-
taneously appear to give the lie to ideas of structural disadvantage and con-
tinuing inequality.
Interestingly, recent US studies have arrived at similar findings and dis-
cerned a new and subtle form of ‘modern racism’. This is interpreted as the
unintentional outcome of news producers who seek to move beyond ‘old
fashioned racism’ by portraying African Americans in more positive ways but
who thereby create an impression of black social advance and thus under-
mine black claims on white resources and sympathies (Entman 1990; Camp-
bell 1995; Lule 1997). Similar criticisms have also been levelled by Jhally and
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Lewis (1992) at the so-called ‘enlightened racism’ of successful ‘black’ TV
programmes such as The Cosby Show, ‘which tells us nothing about the
structures behind success or failure’ and ‘leaves white viewers to assume that
black people who do not measure up to their television counterparts have
only themselves to blame’ (Jhally and Lewis 1992: 138) (for an alternative
interpretation see Downing 1988). Herman Gray has also questioned the
‘advances’ represented by such portrayals, maintaining that: ‘In the world of
television, [America’s] open and multiracial society operates within a care-
fully defined social, cultural and economic assumption that keeps alive the
assimilationist assumptions of racial interaction’ (Gray 1986: 232).
These and other studies, then, increasingly point to the dynamic nature
and subtleties of media discourse and representation, features that cannot
always be captured through simplistic and static applications of the con-
cept of ‘stereotype’ (Mercer 1988, 1989, 1994; Daniels 1990; Cottle
1992). Given the common-sense status of this concept in public and media
criticism, it is perhaps worth pointing out some of its limitations when
unthinkingly applied to media representations of ‘race’ and ethnicity.
Criticisms of the concept of ‘stereotype’ include, for example, its apparent
conflation of universal processes of cognition with those more socially
motivated or ideological processes of perception; its competing realist and
idealist political premises – should representations portray the ‘negative’
realities of ‘raced’ lives and thereby seemingly endorse wider cultural typ-
ifications or portray a more ‘positive’ imaginary but then be accused of
distorting reality?; its assumption that meanings are ‘contained’ within its
terms and are not dependent on (differentiated) audience interpretations;
its pulverization of textual complexity and meanings, the latter of which
are assumed to be confined to, embodied within, and ‘read off’, depicted
characters – though these in any case all too often are methodologically
‘flattened’ in quantitative counts of occupational roles; and its displace-
ment of how, for example, narrative, irony and audience expectations of
genre may all contribute to the communication of meaning. In more
practical terms, the concept of stereotype may also prove increasingly out
of step with the changing cultural politics of representation. Recent ideas
concerning new ethnicities and the cultural politics of difference, with
their fluid understanding of contested subject-positions (Hall 1988,
1992a, 1999; West 1993) prompt a more diversified stance towards the
politics of representation – one that increasingly questions essentialist
stereotypes whether ‘negative’ or ‘positive’.
A ritual view to representations of ‘race’ also promises to move beyond
the relatively static ideas of stereotypes (Carey 1989; Ettema 1990; Hunt
1999). ‘A ritual view of communication is not directed towards the
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extension of messages in space but the maintenance of society in time’, says
Carey, and it involves, ‘not the act of imparting information but the rep-
resentation of shared belief’ (Carey 1989: 43). Ettema (1990), in a study of
‘press rites and race relations’, develops this approach and demonstrates
how the mass media not only reinforce social consensus by routinely affirm-
ing shared beliefs but also ‘mediate situations in which individuals or insti-
tutions actively engage each other – often to further their own ends – in a
stylized public event – a “public enactment”’ (Ettema 1990: 310). This
approach is important because, again, it reveals how some representational
opportunities or openings can sometimes be won within an unfolding narra-
tive enacted (and contested) through time. These openings, then, are not
entirely predetermined by the forms of news texts or contained by the stra-
tegic advantages of dominant social interests.
Hunt (1999) further illuminates the power of this ritual approach in his
detailed analysis of the ‘media event’ of the O.J. Simpson case. This study
observes how different political projects sought to mobilize their interests in
and through four principal narratives that surrounded the black celebrity’s
televised trial and his subsequent acquittal for the murder of his wife and her
friend. Narratives of the ‘Celebrity-Defendant’, ‘Black “Other” ’, ‘Domestic-
Violence’ and ‘Just-Us’ variously served, according to Hunt, as hegemonic
discourses in support of the status quo or as counter-hegemonic discourses
aimed at disrupting the status quo and its current treatment of women and
black Americans. The study thus ‘acknowledges the potent effect of integra-
tive, hegemonic forces like ritual without discounting the possible infil-
tration of counter-hegemonic ideas’ (Hunt 1999: 46).
Fiske (1994a) has also deployed ideas of ‘media events’ to capture the
seemingly ‘hyperreal’ media exposure granted to major stories like the O.J.
Simpson case. This media event became such a phenomenon, according to
Fiske, because it served to express the deep conflictual cultural undercur-
rents of ‘race’ within American society as well as the increasingly ‘mediated’
nature of our ‘postmodern times’. Fiske attends to the succession of ‘media
events’ involving black men in recent years, for example, O.J. Simpson,
Rodney King, Clarence Thomas, Willie Horton, Mike Tyson and Marion
Barry, and argues:
These men do not figure as unique individuals, but only as the products
of the white imagination; they figure as embodiments of the white fasci-
nation with and terror of the Black male and his embodiment of a
racial-sexual threat to white law and order. (Fiske 1994a: xv)
These representations of ‘race’, then, serve to racialize, criminalize and
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 13
sexualize black men and, by processes of symbolization, the wider black
Notwithstanding the ‘postmodern’ nature of our societies these findings
in fact resonate with those from earlier times. A chilling example helps make
the case. In 1938 Ames reported on her study of (pre-modern) American
society in the 1930s and how, ‘Newspapers and Southern society accept
[racist] lynching as justifiable homicide in defence of society’, particularly
with respect to ‘the protection of white women’, and how ‘This attitude of
society in the south – this sympathetic understanding of a barbarous act
while regretting the fact – influences editorial opinion’ (Ames 1938; see also
Omi 1989). Notwithstanding the developments and complexities of media
representations it seems that significant sections of today’s media continue
to reproduce racist myths and white fears.
In their different ways each of the three chapters that comprise Part I on
‘Changing representations’ interrogate the continuing influence of white
racism within today’s media. This is so, notwithstanding the development of
new technologies of communication, growing multicultural awareness
within sizeable sections of the media audience, and the increasingly
unacceptable public use of explicit racist language. Each chapter provides us
with new departures in the analysis of contemporary media representations
and together these alert us to the necessity of engaging with, and critically
challenging, the discursive and representational forms of contemporary
media racisms.
In Chapter 2, ‘New(s) racism: a discourse analytical approach’, Teun van
Dijk outlines his discourse analytical approach and the insights that this
delivers when applied to an example of ‘new(s) racism’. Van Dijk’s work has
been at the forefront of recent international developments in discourse
analysis as well as in the applied examination of communicated racism in
both text and talk (van Dijk 1987, 1988a, 1991). His discussion provides us
with invaluable tools for the analysis of mediated ‘new(s) racism’ often
embedded within the structures and presuppositions of language. The exam-
ple used in this chapter is a news report taken from the popular British news-
paper the Sun, a tabloid that has often been criticized for its racist portrayals
in the past. In the light of continuing press reporting of refugees, ‘economic
migrants’ and asylum seekers in Britain in xenophobic, ethnocentric and
racist terms, van Dijk’s approach is all too relevant to our times and will
hopefully equip others to examine, expose and challenge the subtleties of
new(s) racism wherever it is found.
Fiske, as we observed above, has recently interrogated some of the US’s
most spectacular, hyperreal ‘media events’ involving black Americans and
how these have served to visualize white fears and imagination in powered
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displays of cultural representation (Fiske 1993, 1994a, 1994b). In Chapter
3, ‘White watch’, John Fiske develops his earlier analyses with particular
reference to practices of racialized surveillance since, in his view, ‘the rela-
tions between the seer and the seen, between the knower and the known, are
ultimately ones of power’. Videotapes and televised pictures have featured
prominently in recent media events, whether the live televised broadcast of
O.J. Simpson fleeing the attentions of the police and his subsequent court
trials, the videotape of Marion Barry, the former Black mayor of Washing-
ton, DC, allegedly accepting drugs from an ex-girlfriend, or the videotape
of the Los Angeles Police Department beating Rodney King that subse-
quently led to televised scenes of the Los Angeles ‘riots’ or (discursively con-
tested) ‘radical shopping’ (Fiske 1994a). Developing theoretical ideas from
Foucault, Fiske argues that the growth of contemporary forms of social sur-
veillance are involved in the construction of a ‘regime of truth’ which serves
to abnormalize and racialize black people and maintain the social order of
whiteness. Fiske’s chapter thus challenges us to rethink the apparent neu-
trality of technologies of surveillance and examine how these produce and
communicate racialized knowledge which differentially penetrate into white
and black lives.
In Chapter 4, ‘Dreaming of a white . . .’ John Gabriel also interrogates
ideas of ‘Whiteness’ and the roles played by both established and new
media in its construction and circulation. His discussion therefore develops
previous themes of the discursive complexity and articulation involved in
racialized representations, especially in relation to those of ethnicity, gender
and sexuality as well as the varying roles played by different forms of media
– cinema, television, radio, the press, the Internet, CD-ROMs – in affirming
and popularizing forms of white consciousness and racist backlash culture.
Gabriel situates these developments in relation to the shifting politics of
‘race’, global processes of change and the intertwined histories of the US and
Britain. Whiteness should not be regarded as a monolithic discourse, he
maintains, nor are whites a homogeneous ethnic group; rather, whiteness is
a ‘pathological discourse which has been constructed to create the fiction of
a unitary and homogeneous culture and people’. Today many whites feel
anxious and under threat and this produces, according to Gabriel, a white
backlash culture expressed in and across today’s different media.
Changing contexts of production
In comparison to studies of media representations of ‘race’, racism and eth-
nicity, studies of media production in this context are relatively few and far
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 15
between – a finding that reflects an imbalance in the wider field of media
communication studies more generally, the practical difficulties of securing
research access to media production domains, and the influence of theoreti-
cal frameworks disposed to privilege the ‘moment’ of the text. Currently this
imbalance threatens to underestimate, and under-theorize, the important
forces that both condition and constrain, as well as facilitate and enable,
ethnic minority media involvement in the production of representations.
Studies of media representations often lack a theory of ‘mediation’ and, in
consequence, collapse the forces of production into culturally defined
‘frameworks of knowledge’ that are thought to be at work in the production
(or, to borrow Stuart Hall’s terms, the ‘encoding’) of media output (Hall
1980c). As such, they tend to overlook Hall’s recognition of ‘the relations of
production’, the ‘technical infrastructure’ and the ‘institutional structures’
that also condition and shape the practices and output of media workers.
There is much more to ‘media production’, of course, than the professional
incorporation of surrounding cultural discourses. Neither can ‘production’
usefully be confined, as theorized in structuralist accounts, to the ‘produc-
tion’ of meanings within ‘texts’ and systems of signification, or processes of
identity formation ‘produced’ exclusively within/through contending narra-
tives and discourses. That said, ‘production’ is not hermetically sealed
behind institutional walls nor confined to organizational decision making
and professional routines, and nor is it simply the (unmediated) expression
of market forces. ‘Production’ involves all of these forces in dynamic combi-
nation and much else besides.
Research into media production has particular relevance for our under-
standing and theorization of racialized and racist media representations as
well as for the under-representation of ethnic minorities as media pro-
fessionals and cultural producers. Miles (1989) has usefully differentiated
between the processes and mechanisms involved in the reproduction of social
exclusion, disadvantage and racist discrimination – processes that by defi-
nition cannot all usefully be analysed and understood as ‘racism’. Historical
processes and structural factors can lead to exclusions and disadvantages that
are not, in consequence, consciously intended or ideologically premised on
racist ideas. When we consider the operations, institutions and practices of
the media we should therefore not be surprised to find that a complex of fac-
tors and processes may also be at work here too, resulting in ethnic-minority
under-representation. Of course this is not to deny that racist thinking and
institutionalized racism may also be involved. But if we want to better under-
stand the forces that contribute to the under-representation of ethnic minori-
ties within the media workforce as well as their misrepresentation in terms of
media portrayal, we have to grapple with all the complexities at work.
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 16
Viewed through a wide-angled lens, media production is shaped by pre-
vailing state policies and socio-political responses to ethnic minorities, as
comparative studies of different multicultural nations demonstrate. Political
ideas of assimilation, integration, pluralism, multiculturalism and/or anti-
racism can all variously inform the regulatory frameworks and cultural cli-
mates in which mainstream and minority production can either flourish or
flounder (Riggins 1992; Dowmunt 1993; Husband 1994a; Frachon and
Vargaftig 1995; Jakubowicz 1995). State regulatory frameworks and media
policies are themselves subject to international forces including, as men-
tioned above, globalizing market trends, increased commercialism and
technological developments, as well as other impinging geopolitical realities.
Media industries and organizations are competing in uncertain times and
volatile markets, and they strategically seek to position themselves in rela-
tion to regulatory authorities, competitors and consumers. Changing media
structures and processes therefore shape the production contexts and frame
the operations, budgets and strategic goals of media institutions, and these
are condensed within senior decision making and must be professionally
(pragmatically) negotiated by media professionals and producers in their
daily practices.
Only a few studies have empirically examined how these and other forces
impact on the production environment and producers of ethnic minority
representations (defined here as ‘about’, ‘for’ or ‘produced by’). Such studies
include, for example, those of producers and the production of TV docu-
mentaries (Elliott 1972; Anwar and Shang 1982; Roscoe 1999); local radio
programmes (Husband and Chouhan 1985) and black liberation radio
(Fiske 1993: 227–33; Albert-Honore 1996); commercial TV magazine pro-
grammes and regional news (Cottle 1993a, 1993b); public service (BBC)
multicultural programming (Cottle 1997, 1998); independent commercial
and community-based TV and film (Salam 1995; Cottle 1997); minority
cable TV (Tait and Barber 1996; Ismond 1997a, 1997b); the British Punjabi
press (Tatla and Singh 1989) and the Black minority press more generally
(Benjamin 1995); independent video and film collectives in Britain (Pines
1988; Hussein 1994) and in Britain and the US compared (Snead 1994). Key
factors and constraints identifed at work here include, inter alia, limited
finances, resources and training opportunities, systems of patronage and
corporate gatekeepers, institutional conservatism and organizational hier-
archy, producers’ attitudes and cultural capital, source dependencies and
source inhibitions, professional norms of balance and objectivity, pro-
fessional status claims, cultural obligations and the ‘burden of represen-
tation’, audience expectations, temporal production cycles, and the
conventions and aesthetics of media forms. Some of these forces ‘at work’
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 17
will be unpacked and discussed further below, as well as in some of the chap-
ters that follow.
Together, however, these studies suggest that both individualist and instru-
mental explanations of media production do not fully encapsulate the com-
plexities involved. There is more going on than simply the enactment of
individual ideas and preferred cultural outlooks, or the manipulation of the
media by senior corporate figures and/or surrounding political interests.
Indeed, early studies of ‘race’ and the media by James Halloran and others
had pointed to the complexities involved in explaining the media’s ‘failure
to communicate’ when indentifying the involvement of, inter alia, the ‘event
orientation’ of news, the operation of deep-seated news values (‘negativity’,
‘drama’, ‘conflict’, ‘personalization’, ‘violence’), the commercial logic of
the media industries, as well as the ‘inferential frameworks’ or cultural/
professional outlooks and expectations of the media workers concerned
(Halloran 1974, 1977; see also Kushnick 1970; Knopf 1973; Hartmann and
Husband 1974).
Accordingly, we must also attend to the various structures, contexts and
dynamics that inform and shape media representations – regulatory, insti-
tutional, commercial, organizational, technological, professional, and cul-
tural/ideological. To date, by far the most developed area of production
research concerns journalism and news organization and the levels of pro-
duction and professionalism. A brief review of some of these key findings
thus helps to illustrate some of the complexities ‘at work’, complexities that
are often missed and under-theorized in analyses of the cultural discourses
‘at play’ within media texts.
Journalist and proprietor prejudice
Anecdotal evidence provided by working journalists and observers suggests
that many journalists and news proprietors do indeed harbour racist views
and sentiments (Hollingsworth 1990: 132). Proprietorial involvement in set-
ting news policy, hiring and firing senior editors, and even dictating head-
lines are also well documented (Pilger 1986, 1998). Much might seem to
depend, therefore, on the personal views of proprietors, senior editors and
ordinary journalists. However, on closer examination, research suggests that
other more influential structures and processes are at work.
Ethnic composition and journalist training
The ethnic composition of journalists, their recruitment, professional
training, on-the-job socialization, and problems of retention are clearly of
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 18
relevance here. If journalists are found to come predominantly from white
middle-class homes, select educational institutions and/or share similar
middle-ground political values, undoubtedly this will influence the sensibil-
ities and knowledge base informing journalist output. Recent data and dis-
cussion of Britain’s ethnic minority journalists confirm that a gross
imbalance between white and ethnic minority journalists continues to struc-
ture training and employment patterns and opportunities within the news
media industry (Ainley 1998). Of the estimated 4012 national newspaper
journalists only 20 (0.5 per cent) according to Ainley, are Black or Asian,
while a mere 15 (0.2 per cent) out of 8000 work for the provincial press. In
the broadcasting industry matters are slightly improved with an estimated
100 (2.7 per cent) Black or Asian editorial staff among 3700 – here, the
equal opportunities policies, ethnic minority monitoring and training
schemes of the BBC are thought to have helped, though Ainley (1998)
reminds us that half of all Black staff work on black-only radio and tele-
vision programmes. (For US data and discussion see Downing 1994; Wilson,
this volume.)
Such figures are an indictment of the news media and demand concerted
action to bring about real improvement. Ethnographic studies of news
organizations and professionalism nonetheless also indicate that processes
of journalist socialization (and retention) may be as important as journalist
recruitment. Colleague esteem, successful newsroom acceptance and pro-
motion and career moves depend upon conformity to a news policy and
news organization goals, not their disruption (Breed 1955; Mazingo 1988;
Cottle 1993a; Wilson, this volume). Researchers have also often commented
on the ostensible lack of conflict within newsrooms and the unspoken
acceptance of both shared news values and a widespread professional ideol-
ogy of ‘objectivity’ – an ideology that may well have the effect of distancing
ethnic minority journalists from acting as advocates for those minority
groups and interests they might otherwise seek to serve (Cottle 1998; Allan
Competition and marketplace pressures
News organizations, for the most part, are in business to make profits and
all compete for readers and audiences. Political economy research raises a
third explanation based on the wider system of commercial constraints and
pressures bearing down on the ‘cultural industries’ and their news output
(Murdock 1982; Golding and Murdock 1996). Surviving in a competitive
marketplace means seeking the maximum audience/readers and the maxi-
mum receipts from advertisers. In this context, news is produced just like
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 19
any other commodity for the largest possible group of consumers. Within a
predominantly white society and culture, economic forces can centre
‘middle ground’ white opinion and interests since this is where the largest
market and profits are found, and thereby marginalize minority interests,
voices and opinions. Also, high market entry costs and potentially smaller
audiences, and hence advertiser reluctance to pay for advertising in such out-
lets, all inhibit the successful formation and growth of minority ethnic news
media – though some have managed against the odds to secure a niche
market (Tatla and Singh 1989; Riggins 1992; Benjamin 1995). In the main-
stream, market pressures also contribute to press sensationalism, populist
forms and formats, and can lead to the orchestration of ‘race’ controversy
in pursuit of readers, ratings and revenue.
Bureaucratic organization and new technologies
Bureaucratic and organizational pressures within the newsroom, as well as
impersonal economic forces outside, are also at work. Confronted with the
daily pressures of news deadlines and the uncertainty of tomorrow’s news
events, news teams seek, as far as possible, to ‘tame the news environment’
and ‘routinize the unexpected’. One way of doing this is to rely on key insti-
tutional sources of news, such as the police or government sources, for
example, who serve as the nation’s primary definers of reality (Hall et al.
1978). The result is that little energy or resources are devoted, as a matter of
routine, to the search for non-institutional voices and viewpoints. When
coupled with a professional journalistic claim to impartiality and objectivity
which, ironically, is achieved in practice via the accessing of authoritative
(that is, authority) voices, so the bureaucratic nature of news production is
geared to privilege the voices and viewpoints of (white) social power hold-
ers, and not those excluded from powerful institutions.
That said, recent sociological studies of news source interventions, as well
as ritual studies of news representation and production referenced earlier
(Hunt 1999), now suggest that questions of news access may not be so clear
cut and are contingent on the contestation of competing sources. The chang-
ing cultural-political field of ‘race’ and the unfolding narratives of particu-
lar news stories can also contribute to a wider caste of news actors, voices
and viewpoints than may be anticipated, as certain stories break through
news thresholds and become mobilized by different political interests and
projects and stimulate ‘pack journalism’ (Cottle 2000a). In the context of
the UK, the unprecedented media exposure that has built across the years
following the racist murder of the young British student Stephen Lawrence
in 1993 is a case in point. Across the years 1993 to 1998 The Guardian
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 20
newspaper, for example, produced no fewer than 347 news reports on this
one murder and its aftermath. Generally media attention has focused on the
actions, pronouncements and failings of the police, the courts, a public
inquiry as well as senior government ministers suggesting that a powerful
combination of social and cultural forces are at work in the creation of this
high profile ‘media event’ (Cottle 2000b).
Researchers also need to attend to new digital technologies of news pro-
duction and delivery which, in combination with increased commercial pres-
sures and political deregulation, have recently begun to reconfigure
newsrooms and journalist practices. Journalists are increasingly under pres-
sure to work ‘flexibly’ as multi-skilled workers producing news for multi-
media news outlets. A recent study of just such a multimedia ‘news centre’
demonstrates how the introduction of new technologies and multi-skilled
practices have contributed in practice to undermining community source
involvement. This was so notwithstanding the possibilities of electronic
news production systems, the Internet, email, video telephones, video cam-
eras and so on to enhance search facilities, community access and widen
forms of minority ethnic news participation (Cottle 1999). Quite simply the
multi-skilled journalists fashioning news for TV, radio and on-line had nei-
ther the time nor the professional imagination to enhance ethnic minority
community involvement through the use of these new technologies.
Deep-seated news values
News values, ‘one of the most opaque structures of meaning in modern soci-
ety’ (Hall 1981: 234), have long been noted to help select, order and prior-
itize the production of news representations (Galtung and Ruge 1981). In
the context of ethnic minority reporting, then, it is perhaps unsurprising that
news often forefronts images of ethnic minorities in terms of conflict, drama,
controversy, violence and deviance (Halloran 1974, 1977; Hartmann and
Husband 1974; Troyna 1981; Cottle 1991). The question here, though, is
not whether these news values are exclusive to ethnic minority reporting
because clearly they inform other news stories as well, but rather to what
extent they figure in a disproportionate number of stories about ethnic
minorities framed in such ways. We should question to what extent ‘news
values’ can really be assumed to be universal given the professionally pro-
duced variations found in and across different news forms. The recent
development of, and controversy surrounding, the so-called ‘public journal-
ism’ in the US, for example, with its advocacy of democratic participation
helps to illustrate how ‘news values’ need not be seen as written in stone
(Glasser and Craft 1998).
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 21
News forms and news genres
News organizations typically work to an identifiable editorial position and
in-house style. Journalists also reproduce these distinctive news forms
according to a number of genre and sub-genre conventions. These too exert
a shaping impact upon the selection and framing of news stories about
ethnic minorities, as the discussion of local news representations of ‘race’
above, has already suggested. We can also observe how processes of
‘tabloidization’ or, in more derogatory terms, ‘dumbing down’, led by com-
mercial imperatives and professional perceptions of their audience are today
changing television schedules, programme formats and newspaper appeals.
These processes indirectly and directly impact on subject selection and
silences within and across the news (and other forms of ‘factuality’ pro-
gramming) and often inform the sensationalist and/or superficial spin that
accompanies their presentation – processes already documented to have
deleteriously influenced the TV representation of ethnic minorities and
issues (Cottle 1993a; Ross 1996).
The above has done no more than briefly indicate some of the interrelated
structures and processes of news manufacture that condition and shape –
both directly and indirectly – the production of news representations of
ethnic minorities. Not everything, it seems, can necessarily be accounted for
with reference to the hegemonic play of cultural power and discursive con-
testation embodied within media representations – behind the scenes there
is often more going on than meets the eye. Today, as we have already heard,
the media landscape is fast changing and the three chapters that comprise
the second part, ‘Changing contexts of production’, examine this changing
scene in relation to the production of television programmes and press rep-
resentations of ethnic minorities. The three chapters address different levels
of interrelated change. These comprise the changing patterns of newsroom
recruitment of ethnic minority journalists and the impact of traditional pro-
cesses of journalist socialization; the informing context of commercial and
corporate change and the response of professional programme makers to
these new media constraints and pressures; and the changing global and
technological landscape of the media industry more widely and its impact on
the production and circulation of representations of ‘blackness’.
In Chapter 5, ‘The paradox of African American journalists’, Clint Wilson
addresses the contemporary position of African American journalists in US
newsrooms. The chapter first historically contextualizes the current situ-
ation of African American journalists in relation to earlier calls for change,
and provides up to date data on the employment of black journalists and
editors in today’s newsrooms. Wilson argues that the situation, though
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 22
slightly improved in recent years, nonetheless remains woefully inadequate
and seeks to explain why it is that news representations continue to ignore
black perspectives, notwithstanding the employment of some black journal-
ists. Wilson focuses on how processes of institutional socialization and sanc-
tions within newsrooms continue to work against necessary change in news
media content. In effect, he argues, the pressures for change and the forces
of news media institutional socialization have created a paradox for black
In Chapter 6, ‘A rock and a hard place: making ethnic minority tele-
vision’, Simon Cottle also attends to the production environment and pro-
fessional practices of ethnic minority media workers. Here, however, the
focus shifts to the production of ‘multicultural programmes’, that is, pro-
grammes produced by, for and about Britain’s ethnic minorities, by the
public service broadcaster the BBC, as well as by independent commercial
companies and community-based producers. Producers and the production
of multicultural television have often been overlooked in theoretical discus-
sions. Drawing on his recent empirical research, Cottle illuminates, with the
help of the producer’s accounts and experiences, how a number of commer-
cial, corporate and cultural constraints are pragmatically accommodated by
today’s producers. These constraints and accommodations are shown to
thwart programme intentions and cast doubt on corporate statements of
commitment towards multicultural programme production.
In Chapter 7, ‘Black representation in the post network, post civil rights
world of global media’, Herman Gray explores the structural transform-
ations in the global media industry and ponders what this means for black
television programming and black media representations. He raises ques-
tions about the ‘meanings of blackness’ when played in the distant reaches
of the vast corporate marketplace made possible by satellite, cable, the Inter-
net and other forms of global delivery, as well as the possibility that the per-
sistence of racialized programming patterns and viewing preference may
suggest the presence of a ‘post civil rights discourse’. Gray concludes, how-
ever, that though media representations do obviously signify at multiple
levels and in different times and places, they continue to bear the traces of
their conditions of production and the historicity of their time and place.
Changing cultures of identity
Studies of ethnic minority audiences, remarkably, remain a rarity. Given the
recent enthusiasm for ideas of ‘active’ audiences in recent media approaches
(Dickinson et al. 1998), this silence, with a few exceptions only, is perhaps
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 23
all the more surprising. In another sense, however, it simply continues the
institutional logic and academic inertia which, until recently, has conspired
to ignore what ethnic minorities themselves might think, want, or say about
media representations, the media’s involvement within their everyday lives,
or their media hopes for the future. This situation is now under pressure to
change. In these ‘new (media) times’ of technological proliferation, acceler-
ating global reach, fragmenting markets and increased competition, minor-
ity audiences can become targeted as potentially lucrative markets and their
consumer tastes and media requirements may, in consequence, be deemed
worthy of market research. A growing ‘multiculturalist’ sensibility com-
bined with a corporate PR (public relations) culture has also, no doubt,
encouraged major media players to publicly commit themselves to multi-
cultural aims and occasionally sponsor research aimed at finding out what
they should already know – and many ethnic minorities, of course, have
always known.
More theoretically, academic interest in processes of audience reception
involving ‘interpretative communities’, ‘polysemic texts’, differentiated
‘decoding’, situated contexts of domestic appropriation, and media use
within local settings and cultural milieux, has also recently combined with
research interests previously signalled within the ‘new ethnicities’ problem-
atic. Together these conceptual approaches are now prompting new and sig-
nificant work in this area (J. Lewis 1991; Jhally and Lewis 1992; Gillespie
1995; Barker 1997, 1998). Linking both these new approaches to audiences
and the new ethnicities problematic are shared concerns with cultural pro-
cesses of sense-making and how these inform the construction of identities
and communities – whether ‘interpretative’ and/or ‘imagined’. This cul-
turalist approach to audiences thus promises to deliver deep insights into
processes of communicated meaning and sense-making. As such it is a far
cry from earlier sociological attempts to map and record processes of media
communication and diffusion as in, for example, a study of the Detroit riot
of 1967 which involved interviews with 500 arrested ‘Negro’ men (Singer
1970), or the behaviourist simplicities that suggest a ‘causal’ media effect
prompting ‘copycat’ rioting (Scarman 1986: 173–5).
Market surveys, prompted by the commercial logics that underpin their
design, are generally poorly equipped to delve into the complexities of
minority and diasporic interpretative processes and/or situated media
appropriation and use. Recent academic surveys have revealed, however,
important patterns of majority and minority media use, programme prefer-
ences and attitudes towards majority and minority ethnic provision (Hallo-
ran et al. 1995; Mullan 1996). When aggregate results are followed up with
interviews, as in both of these studies, qualitative findings emerge that often
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 24
reveal collective minority dissatisfaction and frustration with the media’s
seeming inability to provide representations that portray their communities
and cultures, their difficulties and diversity, in ways that are thought to be
valid or fair – findings also exposed and discussed by Karen Ross (this
volume). Viewer response mail has also provided researchers with retro-
spective insights into how white and Black viewers have differentially
responded to and made sense of early ‘symptomatic’ TV texts, that is, pro-
grammes that register the racial tensions of their time (Bodroghkozy 1995).
Interviews with ethnic minority audiences of contemporary media ‘texts’
have also revealed differential readings (Bobo 1995).
These latter studies invariably move beyond a concern with differentiated
‘attitudes’ towards media output and pursue a deeper appreciation of inter-
pretative processes with the help of a model of audience ‘decoding’ (Hall
1980c). This model anticipates differential audience responses, given the
‘polysemous’ nature of media texts which are thought capable of sustaining
‘dominant-hegemonic’, ‘negotiated’ and ‘oppositional’ codes of audience
reading. This model informed David Morley’s early empirical study of audi-
ence responses to the UK television news programme Nationwide though,
revealingly, he noted how a group of black students ‘make hardly any con-
nection with the discourse of Nationwide. The concerns of Nationwide are
not the concerns of their world. They do not so much produce an opposi-
tional reading as refuse to read it at all’ (Morley 1980: 134).
In-depth qualitative studies of ‘raced’ responses to selected ‘media events’,
whether the Los Angeles ‘riots’ of 1992 or the trials of the black celebrity
O.J. Simpson, are also revealing. Hunt (1997) observes, for example, how
‘black-raced’ informants exhibited a consciousness qualitatively different
from that exhibited by ‘Latino-raced’ and ‘white-raced’ informants when
‘reading’ the same mainstream television news portrayal of the Los Angeles
‘riots’. According to Hunt, ‘They were generally hostile toward KTTV
assumptions that localized the significance of the events, that blurred the
event’s connection to issues of systematic racial and economic injustice in the
US’ (Hunt 1997: 163). He concludes that ‘we are presented with a case
where textual interpellations and audience resistance are intimately con-
nected to raced ways of seeing’ (ibid; see also Fiske 1993, 1994a, 1994b;
Hunt 1999).
The complexities of audience reception and sense-making are not
exhausted, however, with reference to these ‘raced’ ways of seeing. The
interactions and various uses made of different media technologies and their
insertion into everyday cultural practices and cultural milieux involves more
than this – important though the structuring logics and outlooks of ‘raced’
media involvement undoubtedly are in shaping media responses and
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 25
interpretations. Questions of identity and media interpretation are unlikely,
when viewed from the new ethnicities problematic, to simply render down
into what can often appear to be essentialized audience positions and pre-
dicted differences of ‘raced’ decoding. The complexities and contestation of
multiple ‘subject positions’ or ‘positionalities’ discursively mobilized within
and through ‘new ethnicities’, hybrid-cultures and contested cultural spaces
would rather suggest a more fluid and complex set of cultural responses
within processes of media reception and identity formation (Barker 1997,
1998). Here concerns of mediated ‘race’ and racism appear to have become
decentred within emergent work conducted within the new ethnicities prob-
lematic. Current use of the terms ‘transcultural’, diaspora and diasporic con-
sciousness, terms increasingly substituted for those of ‘ethnic minority’ and
‘ethnic minority culture’, further signal this theoretical shift towards cultur-
ally fluid, spatially transnational, and multi-layered discursive (and affec-
tive) ‘reading’ positions and how these are sustained within the cultural
boundaries of diasporic experience (Dayan 1998; Hall 1999).
The chapters in Part III, ‘Changing cultures of identity’, help to illustrate
the importance that is currently attached to this area of empirical research
and theorization and provides four very different discussions. In Chapter 8,
‘In whose image? TV criticism and Black minority viewers’, Karen Ross out-
lines and discusses findings from an innovative study of black audiences
commissioned by the BBC. The study involved 353 members of different
black minority communities and made use of different methods – focus
groups, interviews, viewing diaries, questionnaires. Ross considers the ways
in which black minority audiences interact with television images and
explores the perceptions which different black minorities hold towards tele-
visual output. Salient audience themes raised, and discussed, include audi-
ence ideas of ‘stereotyping’ and the marginality of black minority characters,
the dominance of ‘racism’ themes in programmes featuring black characters,
cross-cultural relationships, and the impact of negative images on both
white and black audiences. The chapter also explores some of the methodo-
logical concerns which arise when research with black minority communi-
ties is undertaken by white researchers and problematizes the notion that
only black researchers can do black research. Ross concludes that ‘What
black minority viewers want is not something huge and extravagant but
something small and relatively easy to provide: the opportunity to see them-
selves, in all their diversity, portrayed credibly on that most powerful of
media – television’.
In Chapter 9, ‘Ethnicity, national culture(s) and the interpretation of tele-
vision’, Ramaswami Harindranath calls into question the tendency within
recent audience reception studies to work with a static view of ethnicity and
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 26
a crude and reductionist understanding of cultural differences. Too often,
he contends, influential audience studies like Liebes and Katz’s The Export
of Meaning (1993) run the risk of reproducing racial stereotypes when
television’s interpretations are thought to be determined by the ethnic
community to which the respondent belongs. Drawing on his recent cross-
national research and deploying theoretical ideas drawn from H-G.
Gadamer, Harindranath acknowledges the centrality of the notion of collec-
tive identity in processes of audience interpretation but proposes a more
complex link between understanding and collectivity. His discussion identi-
fies the presence of a ‘third’ culture, a hybrid between his two selected
national cultures. Not only is this pertinent to debates concerning ‘cultural
imperialism’, but also it suggests a vital avenue for audience research con-
cerned with cross-cultural consumption of mediated knowledge and the
complexities involved.
In Chapter 10, ‘Transnational communications and diaspora communi-
ties’, Marie Gillespie explores how transnational media play a role in sus-
taining South Asian diaspora formations and consciousness by focusing on
the everyday cultural and discursive practices among British Asian youth
living in Southall, London. Gillespie argues for the relevance of an
anthropological approach and illustrates her case with findings from a study
of the reception of two TV versions of the Mahabharata, a foundational text
of Indian society and culture, widely viewed in India and in the diaspora. She
shows how Hindu women in London and Delhi selectively appropriate and
contest key narratives for their own purposes, and in so doing subvert patri-
archal and nationalist discourses in the construction of their own world-
views and identities. The key finding reported here is that young British
Asians make shared use of transnational TV programmes and video films
and that TV talk about them, far from being trivial and inconsequential,
constitutes an ‘embryonic public sphere’ involving forms of self-narration
and a forum in which different identities are experimented with and per-
In Chapter 11, ‘Media and diasporic consciousness: an exploration
among Iranians in London’, Annabelle Sreberny discusses findings from
recent research into one of Britain’s near-invisible Muslim and ‘unmarked’
ethnic communities. She reflects on the developing ideas and theorization of
‘diaspora’ and notes how work which focuses on racism, xenophobia and
the dynamics of exclusion in western societies often overlooks the import-
ance of cultural memories and attachments to other spaces and places that
ethnic communities often hold dear. Sreberny explores this dimension of
diasporic experience and consciousness, and examines how the contempor-
ary media forms of diasporic communities can ‘bind’ such transnational
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 27
communities together and serve to maintain minority ethnic cultural identi-
ties, and cultural attachments. What we need, she argues, are empirically
grounded studies of how diaspora is experienced, lived in the everyday, and
what kind of roles different media play within the complex set of psycho-
logical, sociological and cultural locations that comprise diasporic realities.
On the right to communicate
The chapters in this book all contribute new departures in the media-ethnic
minority field, and each presents new research findings with respect to
‘changing representations’, ‘changing contexts of production’ and ‘changing
cultures of identity’. Implicit to the structure of this book, as well as this
brief sketch of the research field, is the argument that each of these areas of
research and theorization are indispensable for an understanding of the
interrelated complexities informing the interactions between media and
ethnic minorities and changing cultural boundaries. These different research
emphases and approaches are productive of different insights as well as
theoretical tensions – some of which have surfaced and remain unresolved
in this introductory ‘mapping’. Hopefully, however, the different levels of
analysis and insights produced by each can be acknowledged as necessary
for improved understanding. Political economy remains an indispensable
tool in the analysis of the changing configuration of media industries and
new production technologies. Cultural studies and forms of discourse analy-
sis are no less necessary in the interrogation of media texts, representations
and meanings. Sociological approaches to media organizations and pro-
fessional practices, for their part, continue to produce improved under-
standing of the processes and practices by which media workers routinely
grapple with institutional constraints and cultural obligations. And ethno-
graphic and other qualitative approaches to the studies of audiences are now
producing real advances in our appreciation of audience media involvement
in processes of identity formation and identity maintenance.
Implicit to all the chapters that follow, despite their inevitable differ-
ences, is a shared concern with how the media currently represent, respond
to, and perform in relation to ethnic minorities living with multi-ethnic,
multicultural societies. Often informing these critical discussions, then, is a
normative evaluation of how the media ought to represent, respond or per-
form in relation to ethnic minorities, and it is this commitment which often
animates detailed research and provides the critical cutting-edge of engaged
scholarship. The term ‘multicultural’ is perhaps pivotal here and contains
within it fundamental questions (and immanent disputes) about the
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 28
relationship between cultural identity and diversity, citizenship rights and
responsibilities, and the exercise and organization of state power and civil
society. It also begs questions about the normative role of the media in rela-
tion to all of these issues. When ‘multicultural’ is converted into an ‘ism’ –
‘multiculturalism’ – as it so often is today, this tends to flatten thinking
about cultural heterogeneity and glosses over the differentials of power and
historical privilege embedded in the institutions, practices and thinking of
‘multicultural’ societies. In other words, ‘multiculturalism’ often presents
as a ‘pat and pedestrian doctrine’ and parades as ‘the dogma of presump-
tive correctness’ (Goldberg 1994: 1; see also Shohat and Stam 1994; Hall
1999). Difficult issues that go to the political heart of what it means to live
in a ‘multicultural’ society are thereby side-stepped.
In a final afterword chapter, ‘Media and the public sphere in multi-ethnic
societies’, Charles Husband thinks through and renders explicit his norma-
tive ideas about the role of the media in multicultural societies and how the
media should help to construct a multi-ethnic ‘public sphere’. Rooted in
ideas of contemporary political philosophy, Husband challenges the inade-
quacies of much multicultural policy and Eurocentric human rights dis-
course. He argues for a policy of differentiated citizenship rights that
acknowledges the distinctive histories and current experiences of differing
ethnic groups and proceeds to develop a case for a further human right, a
communication right – ‘the right to be understood’. This right, he contends,
must be enacted in and through a multi-ethnic media public sphere. Hus-
band’s chapter is perhaps a little more demanding than the other chapters in
this volume; it challenges us all to think through exactly what we should
expect, and demand, of the media in multi-ethnic societies and why. It pro-
vides a fitting conclusion to this collection.
1 Ideas of ‘race’, racism and ethnicity have been, and continue to be, subject to
heated debate and this informs the politics of language choice and use. This book
is no exception. Thus, each of the contributors to this volume use and often define
their preferred terms in the context of their own chapter discussions and these
follow their informing political viewpoints. Some, for example, seek to signal the
positive meanings of ‘Black’ and/or its political mobilization through capitaliza-
tion, while others use lower case ‘black’ to describe enduring conditions of dis-
advantage, discrimination and racism experienced by different minority groups
and people of colour. Others prefer to refer to specific minority groups such as
‘African-Americans’ in the US or ‘African-Caribbeans’ in the UK and acknow-
ledge the important experiential and other bases of difference both within and
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 29
between minority ethnic groups. These and other language choices, then, signal
the politics of difference and often give expression to three underlying problemat-
ics of ‘race’, racism and ethnicity. Terms set in bold throughout the remainder of
this book refer the reader to the discussion of key terms and concepts (see pages
01intro (ds) 3/5/00 1:04 pm Page 30
... The second area is interested in media as discourse, namely, media as a site of representation, debate, and "space for the participation of migrants and minorities in a public sphere where they can advance their interests and identities" (Bleich, debating migration as a public problem Bloemraad, & de Graauw, 2015, p. 859). Applying content analysis, frame analysis, or discourse analysis, numerous studies examine critically the role of the media in: the misrepresentation of migrant "voices" (Alonso Belmonte, McCabe, & Chornet-Roses, 2010;Wodak, 2010); the production of dominant frames on migration (Balch & Balabanova, 2011Vliegenthart & Roggeband, 2007); the persistence of white racism in the media discourse on ethnic minorities and in media production practices, adapted as they are to the "changing" realities of postmodern societies (Cottle, 2000); the negotiation of cultural identities in ethnic and transnational media reception (Cottle, 2000;Georgiou, 2012). As noted earlier, these studies take as research object especially the media in the host countries, identifying particularities of media discourse over significant time spans, but without correlating them with the dynamics of transnational and local contexts in the sending or receiving states, or discussing them in depth. ...
... The second area is interested in media as discourse, namely, media as a site of representation, debate, and "space for the participation of migrants and minorities in a public sphere where they can advance their interests and identities" (Bleich, debating migration as a public problem Bloemraad, & de Graauw, 2015, p. 859). Applying content analysis, frame analysis, or discourse analysis, numerous studies examine critically the role of the media in: the misrepresentation of migrant "voices" (Alonso Belmonte, McCabe, & Chornet-Roses, 2010;Wodak, 2010); the production of dominant frames on migration (Balch & Balabanova, 2011Vliegenthart & Roggeband, 2007); the persistence of white racism in the media discourse on ethnic minorities and in media production practices, adapted as they are to the "changing" realities of postmodern societies (Cottle, 2000); the negotiation of cultural identities in ethnic and transnational media reception (Cottle, 2000;Georgiou, 2012). As noted earlier, these studies take as research object especially the media in the host countries, identifying particularities of media discourse over significant time spans, but without correlating them with the dynamics of transnational and local contexts in the sending or receiving states, or discussing them in depth. ...
... Many participants also denounced the powerful role played by the media in this negative image and the absence of role models for their children beyond their immediate contexts. This point has been supported by many scholars and by social movements like Time's Up (Cottle, 2000;. ...
... It is understood that this works as a window for them. In newspapers, the news is considered as an influential space which shows the accurate and important piece of information (Cottle, 2000;Fowler, 1991). However, the word "news" is very difficult to define. ...
Language is a tool used for the social construction to frame public opinion. The study highlights that newspapers shape, reshape and manipulate the news headlines by representing them differently to achieve the desired objectives. This paper aims to investigate the coverage of Pakistani newspapers on Aasia Bibi’s acquittal decision by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Content analysis considering Dijk Model and Framing Theory was conducted for the purpose. Unit of analysis was the news headlines of four famous dailies of Pakistan i.e., Daily Dawn, The Nation, Daily Jang and Daily Ummat published in the week of judgment of Aasia Bibi Case. Results revealed that the newspapers portrayed the same issue differently with the distinct discursive techniques. The Nation used lexical choices and emotional phrases to mold public opinions. Comparatively, Jang and Dawn were more objective and sensible in publishing its news headlines
... While Meghan's comments shone a light on her own personal experiences of discriminatory treatment, they reflect the depressingly familiar reality of how people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are portrayed by the UK press on a daily basis. (Siddique 2021) Media research has consistently found minority ethnic communities are depicted as being a problem, or a threat to dominant values and goals (Gans 1979;Van Dijk 1987;Cottle 2000). Ethnic events are consistently described from a white majority point of view, in which the authorities are given more space and credibility than minority spokesperson. ...
Full-text available
This paper sets out a case to decolonize journalism curricula to produce civic-minded journalists who are better prepared to report on multicultural societies. Through the examination of reading lists and module descriptions on UK accredited journalism degrees it is revealed, that the subject is dominated by journalism experiences grounded in western nations and that non-white perspectives are largely neglected. There is a discussion of what decolonizing the curriculum entails and a critique of journalism practice in the UK. Finally, there are recommendations to make journalism curricula inclusive based on findings from a project to narrow the attainment gap at De Montfort University. While there have been calls to make journalism education more international in its outlook, the terminology decolonizing is specifically used to denote the undoing of colonial legacies in creating ethnically and racially divided societies. There is a call to educate trainee journalists about racism and structural racism, and the ways it advantages some groups and disadvantages others. This would enable journalists to challenge longstanding biases and omissions that restrict the audience’s understanding of politics, histories and societies.
... Some authors argue that ethnic or diasporic groups are said to adopt strategies to challenge the dominant discourse and make their voices heard (Cottle, 2000;Alia and Bull, 2005;Karim, 1998;Chan 2005;Van Dijk, 2000). However, diasporic media is not only a "weapon" to struggle with negative portrayal but also to construct the identity (Gloria Macri, 2011). ...
... The racial discrimination of minorities in the media is a potential factor highlighted in prior literature explaining why Americans have a negative association with immigrants. Prior literature on racial discrimination of minorities in the media depicts race as a potential factor for why immigrants have negative associations (Cottle 2000). In the public sphere, the media promotes representations of "unequal social relations" and provides power to specific groups over others (Cottle 2000, 2). ...
Full-text available
ringers” the (Southernmost of Thailand’s) media in the peace process: Reducing bias and hatred towards areas and people in the Southernmost of Thailand aims to understand the negotiating between the ideology of “Stringers” the (Southernmost of Thailand’s) media in the peace process and the roles and responsibilities in reducing bias and hatred towards areas and people in the the Southernmost of Thailand by using in-depth interviews and dialogue processes, as well as participant observations, data collection will lead to analysis and writing of qualitative research descriptions. The results showed that 1) “Media” in the southern border provinces can be grouped into 5 groups, 1. Central media representatives 2. Stringers or journalists in the Southernmost of Thailand 3. Independent media who do not belong to any news agency 4. Citizen media and 5. Interpreter and coordinator media foreign journalist. Some media have overlapping status in many groups, but the dominant group is the “stringers”, mostly local residents, have the opportunity and advantage in terms of sensitivity to news sources but do not have the power to decide on issues or publish them. 2) The Role of “Stringers” the (Southernmost of Thailand’s) media in the peace process found that most of them did not reach the ideology of being a peace jounalism to support the peace process because of 3 main factors: First, dilemma, as if "between the buffalo horns" because of danger on both sides, both as a local people and as a local journalist, who have to negotiate with media ideology and one's own survival in a life-threatening environment, besides the stringers also lacked knowledge and understanding of peace processes and peace journalism. Second, the structure and policies of the media organization are determined by a centralized, relatively decisive power to decide issues and choose to deliver news sent by media from the southern border, reinforcing the horrors, create bias and cause hatred “otherness” in the imaginary geography of outsiders. The third, challenges in journalism include budgets, news sources, multiple sets of facts, and death. Keywords:Audio description production, Documentary program, Name superimposition“S
Full-text available
This short paper analyses the critical aspects of the representation of certain ethnic groups by the media. The underlying assumption is that mass media have a central role in shaping our understandings and opinions about other people. When news media and broadcasts are racially biased, stereotypes are formed and consolidated in the public imaginary. This mechanism triggered by the media often results in discriminatory practices and sometimes even violence against particular individuals. Hence, this paper also intends to propose positive actions that can be taken to ensure a more fair representation of diversity and fight racial bias within the media while promoting multiculturality. «The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses».-Malcolm X 1. Introduction.
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