Reporter 397, 17 February 1997

Election race study

The first systematic analysis of newspaper, radio and television reporting of race and related issues in the run-up to a General Election is being carried out by a University team.

The Commission for Racial Equality has commissioned Dr Ian Law, at the Race and Public Policy Research Unit, together with colleagues at the Institute of Communications Studies to monitor every national news item concerning race in the run-up to the election.

The project will provide evidence on the extent to which race and race-related issues emerge in political debate in association with expressions of prejudice or the exploitation of negative stereotypes. Researchers hope it will raise the quality of political debate on race issues, and will enable both media practitioners and politicians whose speeches and activities they report to test their ability to engage in the passions of political debate while avoiding prejudice.

Stories will be assessed for their position, location, theme, for the main players and ethnic group mentioned and for bias.

"There have been longstanding concerns over the treatment of issues of race, ethnicity and migration by politicians and their subsequent media reporting," said Dr Law.

"But there has been little research on differing patterns of coverage across radio, TV and the press, with specific regard to an election period."

The team is expected to publish its results as a monograph.

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