|Both scholars and community activists have long argued that black people of Caribbean descent are almost exclusively presented by the Canadian media in the context of crime and social deprivation. This paper explores this hypothesis by presenting data from a content analysis of more than 11,000 stories appearing in Toronto-area newspapers over a four month period in 1997/98. A quantitative analysis reveals that approximately 90% of the stories involving black people deal with either crime, sports or entertainment. Black people are especially likely to be affiliated with crimes of street violence and drug trafficking. Furthermore, crimes involving white victims receive much more coverage -- in terms of story area, headline size and front page exposure -- than crimes that involve black victims. A qualitative analysis also reveals important differences in the narratives that involve black crime. While stories involving white offenders usually focus on individual pathology (i.e., family background, psychological problems, etc.), black crimes are often attributed to problems within the black community or aspects of Caribbean culture. The paper concludes with a discussion of how such media depictions shape attitudes towards the black community in Canada and how these attitudes contribute to discrimination with respect to immigration and deportation practices, employment and treatment within the criminal justice system.
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