Minneapolis-St. Paul News Coverage of Minority Communities by Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
In this diverse nation, most Americans learn a greatdeal about people of different races, religions, and national origins through their exposure to media. The news media play a crucial role in educating Americans about the nation’s diversity, and they have tremendous influence on the attitudes of viewers and readers regarding race relations. Likewise, with most Americans living in areas that, in reality, are segregated by race and income, it is often primarily through local news media that residents learn about the diversity of their cities and towns. News media, therefore, carry the huge burden of ensuring that all races, religions, and cultures are presented accurately. When news media stereotype groups of people, bias and racial polarization are perpetuated. In 1993, the Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights published its report, Stereotyping of Minorities by the News Media in Minnesota. The report found at the time “significant merit in allegations that the [Minnesota] media presentation of news is biased when it comes to reporting on people or communities of color.” The Committee recommended that a followup examination of the topic occur. Therefore, this report is an update of the 1993 report that discusses improvements or lack thereof in the news media of Minnesota’s Twin Cities. The Committee also attempted to assess how well the news media are covering communities of color, and to foster dialogue between news media and local communities concerning how improvements can begin. On April 24 and 25, 2002, the Minnesota Advisory Committee held a fact-finding meeting to elicit data, perspectives, and opinions about the Twin Cities news coverage of communities of color. The meeting was open to the public and included a session in which the public could provide testimony. In addition, all affected groups were invited to participate as panelists. Although most information presented in this report was derived from the fact-finding meeting, the report also includes information gathered by regional staff through interviews and secondary sources. The complete report follows this summary.