Missing and Misrepresented: Portrayals of Other Ethnic and Racialized Groups in a Greater Toronto Area Ethnocultural Newspaper

Article excerpt

Abstract

The vibrant ethnocultural press in the Greater Toronto Area is a testament to the multicultural reality of a metropolitan area where visible minorities are expected to be the majority by 2031. The GTA's ethnocultural and racialized communities are served by more than 200 newspapers, many of them published in languages other than English or French. What role do these publications play in shaping how ethnic and racialized groups "see" each other? This case study examines how other groups are portrayed in the Chinese-language daily newspaper Mine Pao. With the exception of members of the White community, it concludes that other racial and ethnic groups are represented only to a limited extent and that, in some cases, they are also misrepresented.

Resume

La presse ethnoculturelle dynamique de la region de Toronto temoigne de la realite multiculturelle de la zone metropolitaine ou on prevoit que les minorites visibles seront majoritaires d'ici 2031. Les communautes ethnoculturelles et racialisees de la region de Toronto ont acces a plus de 200 journaux, dont plusieurs sont publies dans des langues autres que l'anglais ou le francais. Quel est le role de ces publications sur leur perception mutuelle les unes des autres? Dans cette etude, nous examinons comment le quotidien Mine Pao de langue chinoise depeint d'autres groupes ethniques. Nous concluons que, l'exception de la communaute blanche, les autres groupes ethniques et raciaux y sont peu et meme, dans certains cas, faussement representes.

INTRODUCTION

The vibrant ethnocultural press in the Greater Toronto Area is a testament to the multicultural reality of a metropolitan area that attracted nearly a hall million immigrants between 2001 and 2006 (Statistics Canada 2008), and where visible minorities are forecast to be the majority by 2031 (Statistics Canada 2010). Wander into the area's many stores that sell ethnocultural foods and products and you will often see piles of free newspapers published in the language of the store proprietor stacked near the entrance. Stop at a subway newsstand and you can buy local daily newspapers published in Chinese, Korean, Punjabi and other minority languages. The debate and discourse appearing in these newspapers and other ethnocultural media have been characterized as overlapping "sphericules" or "smaller loci of social interaction" (Karim 2002, 231) that form the larger public sphere Habermas (1989) envisioned as a space for democratic debate. Scholars have examined various aspects of these sphericules, investigating how ethnocultural news media shape transnational ties and a sense of belonging to more than one locale (Cheng 2005; Lin et al. 2010), their role in forging a sense of local place (Lindgren 2011), and what part they play in helping newcomers adapt and integrate (Ahadi and Murray 2009; Ball-Rokeach et al. 2001; Lin and Song 2006).

Investigations of the norms and standards of journalism practice in ethnocultural media are less common but these issues are beginning to garner attention. Punjabi media in the Greater Toronto Area came under tire recently for taking sides, often against women, in cases of alleged marriage fraud (Aulakh 2011). Members of the Chinese-Canadian community have criticized the quality of journalism aired on Canada's Chinese-language television stations (Yip 2010). And the prominent editor of a Toronto-area Punjabi newspaper told a recent conference examining press freedom in Canada that editors in the ethnic press often choose not to cover sensitive homeland-related issues for fear of retaliation by extremists (Fatima 2012).

This study explores journalism practice as it relates to portrayals of other ethnic and facial groups in ethnocultural media, defined by Matsaganis, Katz and Ball-Rokeach (2011) as news organizations where the content is produced by and for immigrants and facial, ethnic and linguistic minorities. The role of ethnocultural media in shaping minority relations attracted widespread attention in the United States in 2007 when the San Francisco weekly Asian Week published an inflammatory article entitled "Why I hate blacks" (Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination 2007; Roy 2007). …