Conservatives’ ‘very ethnic’ media approach a success: journalism study

An interview with April Lindgren who authored the study on ethnic media and the 2011 campaign (see earlier Conservatives received most election coverage in GTA ethnic newspapers – New Canadian Media – NCM):

In the run-up to the 2011 election there was interest from media and politicians in the effort from the Conservative to court the ethnic media, like the leaked strategy document that the party would target 10 of what they called “very ethnic” ridings from across the country.

We also saw a pattern of courting the ethnic media undertaken by Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, who was then helping brief ethnic media separate from the parliamentary press gallery. There was also an advertising strategy in the key ridings.

I was interested in what impact that might have, and we don’t know a lot because in many cases there are language barriers. It’s actually very expensive and difficult to do, and the only similar research I know of recently was a 2007 study on Korean media in British Columbia at Simon Fraser University.

I had some talented students who spoke Korean, Punjabi, Russian and Chinese and we were able to find a common protocol for finding what stories were about. We asked how much did they report, and how did they report it.

Conservatives’ ‘very ethnic’ media approach a success: journalism study | Ottawa Citizen.

Conservatives received most election coverage in GTA ethnic newspapers – New Canadian Media – NCM

Interesting but not surprising research:

[April] Lindgren’s research, which will be published in the December 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Political Science, focused on coverage of the 2011 federal election in five ethnocultural publications in the Greater Toronto Area – the Russian Express, Korea Times Daily, Canadian Punjabi Post, Punjabi Daily and Ming Pao. All are daily publications except for the weekly Russian Express. The study concluded that while there was no overwhelming pattern of stories or photos skewed explicitly in favour of the Conservatives, the party did benefit in that more of its politicians were featured in photographs, it was the sole focus of more stories and photos than its competitors, and it was mentioned first most frequently in news coverage.

“The degree to which a candidate or party can consistently earn first mentions in stories…is a measure of campaign effectiveness in that it means party strategists are choosing the topic and framing the discussion, leaving the competition to react in later paragraphs,” Lindgren observed in the paper, entitled “Toronto-area ethnic newspapers and Canada’s 2011 federal election: An investigation of content, focus and partisanship.”

Lindgren said she was interested in investigating election coverage in the ethnic media because language barriers have limited the amount of research done in this area. During the 2011 election, the Conservative Party, in particular, also launched a media strategy that targeted ethnic communities, because a “growing number of ridings in and around major Canadian cities were home to concentrations of potential supporters from single ethnic groups,” Lindgren wrote.

In almost all cases the ethnic papers filled in gaps left by mainstream media by providing more extensive coverage of the local races of interest to their readers.

Most Canadian voters do not participate directly in political events and therefore depend on the news media to help them make informed decisions, Lindgren noted. In addition to examining whether the Conservative party’s courtship of ethnic media paid off in terms of coverage, the research also examined how much election-related news the ethnocultural publications carried, the subject matter dealt with in the coverage and the geographic focus of the reporting local campaigns versus national campaigns.

The results showed that interest in the election varied by publication. The Punjabi Daily carried the most election-related coverage – a total of 123 stories and photos, or 32 per cent of all news items the paper published during the study period. The Russian Express, on the other hand, published just 19 election-related stories and photos, which made up a mere 5.9 per cent of their total news items. The study also observed that both the Punjabi Daily and the Punjabi Post were more similar to mainstream news coverage in that both publications ran more stories about election strategy and poll results than issue-related articles.

Analysis of the election coverage also suggested that individual newspaper’s commitment to election coverage seemed to be influenced by the number of candidates from the publication’s readership community. The Punjabi newspapers, which carried the most election news, also had the most in-group candidates to cover.

Conservatives received most election coverage in GTA ethnic newspapers – New Canadian Media – NCM.