alexa Historical representations of aboriginal people in the Canadian news media
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Robert Harding

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Understanding historical news discourse on aboriginal issues is a first step towards situating aboriginal policy matters within a contemporary socio-political context. Using methods of critical discourse analysis, selected newspaper coverage of four ‘flashpoints’ in the history of aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations in Canada is examined. In addition to drawing contrasts between mid-19th and late-20th-century representations of aboriginal people in the media, some of the broader features of news discourse about aboriginal issues are elucidated, including the news frames employed, and the way meaning is structured through the use of equations, oppositions, headlines, lead paragraphs, sources and other techniques. A significant finding of this study is the degree to which news discourse about aboriginal people has remained constant over the last century and half. In the 1990s, these issues were framed, much as they were in colonial times, in ways that protect dominant interests and signify aboriginal people as a threat.

This article was published in Discourse & Society and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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