October 18, 2011

Colonial imagery in Canadian newspapers

Aboriginals under attack: book

Says negative images prevalent in papers

By Alexandra Paul
Two University of Regina authors say colonialism and racism are dominant threads that weave through the fabric of Canada's English-language newspapers, colouring coverage of aboriginal stories from the Northwest Rebellion to the Oka crisis.

The result is prevalence of negative stereotypes that haunt race relations with aboriginal people to this day, they say.

History professor Mark Cronlund Anderson and art history associate professor Carmen Robertson surveyed 42 local, regional and national daily newspapers from 1869 to the present.

They looked at how aboriginal people were portrayed in historic events like the rebellion, which led to the 1885 hanging of Manitoba M├ętis leader Louis Riel, the 1974 Bended Elbow standoff in Kenora and the 1990 Oka crisis, as well as in editorials, columns and letters to the editor for the past 140 years.

The result is the book, Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers, to be launched today in Regina by its publisher, the University of Manitoba.

The findings could surprise Canadians who believe racism and colonialism are visages of a bygone era, the authors write.

"An examination of press content in Canada since the sale of Rupert's Land in 1869 through to 2009 illustrates with respect to aboriginal people that colonial imagery has thrived, even dominated, and continues to do so in mainstream English-language newspaper," the authors write.
Comment:  For more on journalistic bias, see Media Ignores Victimized Native Women and Racial Blindness in South Dakota's Media.

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