The representations of ethnicity in the media

The representations of ethnicity in the media is negative and can be quite problematic for many. Van Dijk analysed media content and saw that ethnic minorities  were seen as “threatening” in three ways;  immigrants are seen as a threat in terms of “numbers” entering countries to take jobs, asylum seekers are also portrayed as a threat, they are seen as advantageous of the welfare system and lastly, Muslims were seen as threat in the media associated with terrorism and subjected to the Islamophobic media coverage.

Philo and Beatiee in 1999 identified a moral panic that saw immigration  as a major threat. A moral panic is a media outburst on a situation or group often over exaggerated. In 1999 the British trading, minister had resigned due to a lack of border controls as a result, the media had over exaggerated the resignation and immigrants had become the target to be stigmatised. The term “illegal immigrant” had become increasingly used and immigrants were decribed as “floods”. This led to many immigrants to feel alienated from society as they were given a negative portrayal. Moreover, Poole analysed British broadsheets from 1993 to 1996 and saw that Muslim people were portrayed as manipulative who would use their faith for their own personal and political gain.

Gill looked at the representations of ethnicity in magazines and saw that most believed that beauty is associated with whiteness as a result, the amount of ethnic minorities portrayed in beauty magazines was much lower compared to white or lighter skinned women.

African-Caribbeans have also been portrayed in a negative light by the media. Akinti saw that the media showed African Caribbeans as criminals and ignored the diversity of a huge black audience. This is further supported  by Van Dijk who saw that the media believed black people are associated with gang violence who go around defending their land. Additionally, Agbetu noticed that the media socially constructed black people, they fall into three areas either; in Sports, entertainment or criminality, this can be confirmed by looking at more contemporary examples; Mo Farah is associated with Sports and Beyonce is associated with entertainment and music. The amount of political representatives for black people in the media is small. Furthermore, Agbetu saw that the term “black youth” was used differently from the term “white youth” it was more associated with criminality.

The media does show bias views upon ethnic minorities giving them the stereotypical image that they are either criminals or threatening. The media ignore the positives such as: immigrants help build a countries economy. Moreover, ethnic minorities add diversity and culture to a country which is often sidelined by the media.