16 January 2014
Runnymede's new survey has found that four out of every five people (78%) thought that the way that the media portrays ethnic minorities promotes racism. The results were published in the Independent on Friday 10 January.
Recently, minority ethnic groups and individuals have featured heavily in the news. Most prominently, it was ruled that Mark Duggan had been lawfully killed, leading to many news outlets publishing unbalanced descriptions of him as a â€œthugâ€ who â€œlived by the gunâ€.
Alongside this Benefits Street where race relations mainly consisted of abusive chants towards Eastern European migrants, took over Channel 4. This followed their program on 2 January, Secrets of Pickpockets, Shoplifters and Scammers, which portrayed Eastern Europeans migrants and West Africans as determined criminals, desperate to scam hard-working Britons.
These negative portrayals of minority ethnic groups are assumed to reflect public opinion, but is this really the reality?Â And, are do the public view these discourses as responsible journalism?
It would appear not. Before the End Racism This Generation campaign launched, Runnymede commissioned an attitudinal survey on race in the UK. One of the questions that we asked was â€œDo you think that the way the media portrays minority ethnic groups, promotes racism?â€
Four out of five respondents (78%) agreed that media coverage of ethnic minority Britons promotes racism.
This concern was not just expressed by respondents who were from minority ethnic backgrounds. Over two-thirds (76%) of White British respondents thought that the mediaâ€™s representation of minority ethnic groups fuelled racism.
Quite unsurprisingly the groups who most strongly agreed with the statement were from Pakistani and Eastern European backgrounds, both of whom have been targeted by the media in Islamophobic and anti-migration narratives.
Almost all Pakistani (94 %) and for 89 % of Eastern Europeans thought that the media portrayals of BME groups promote racism.
Over two-thirds of Indian (68%) and Black African (67%) participants agreed with the statement.
Runnymedeâ€™s Director Rob Berkeley said: â€œFour out of five British people believe that the mediaâ€™s portrayal of ethnic minorities promotes racism. This is true whether youâ€™re Black, Asian or White. The vast majority of the British public questions the ability of the media to portray ethnic minorities in a fair and reasonable light.â€
â€œRunnymede is particularly concerned about the challenge this poses for improving relations between people of different ethnic groups. Our media must do more to respond to the real views and concerns of readers rather than promote stereotypes about Black and Asian people or immigrants.â€
Runnymedeâ€™s campaign End Racism This Generation is calling on media organizations to tackle damaging representations of black and minority ethnic groups by pledging to ask a few simple questions:
Notes to Editors