An analysis of how ethnic media covered the federal election suggests their approach mirrored that of the mainstream press, findings the study’s author says highlight a key point about the so-called “ethnic vote” in Canada.
“One can’t assume nor should one assume that the ethnic vote in Canada is separate than the mainstream vote,” said Andrew Griffith, a former director of multiculturalism policy for the federal government.
Griffith undertook the analysis as part of an election effort called Diversity Votes, a project aimed at providing a deeper understanding of the ethnocultural makeup of the electoral map, and its implications.
The growing diversity of the Canadian electorate has seen the federal parties finding more ways to woo voters in specific ethnic groups, especially in ridings where single communities have enough voters to swing a race.
In the 2019 campaign, that took the form of everything from promises targeted directly to certain communities, ads in a variety of languages and, in a first, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh answering questions in Punjabi, which he speaks fluently.
But Griffith said that despite what the campaigns may have been trying to do, his findings show the ethnic press were covering the same issues as the mainstream media.
Ethics, relations with China and climate change were widely covered, as were the parties’ strategies and tactics, which he said was partially a reflection of the use of translated stories from the English or French press.
The Liberals and the Conservatives received equal coverage throughout the campaign. Before the race began in earnest in September, the People’s Party of Canada, along with its controversial positions on multiculturalism and immigration, received more coverage than the Greens or the NDP.
The NDP finally got a boost after the first English-language debate, where Singh was praised for his performance.
Singh’s candidacy marked a milestone in Canadian politics, as he is the first visible minority leader of a major political party. Still, Griffith said that Punjabi-language outlets, as well as those serving the Punjabi community in places like Singh’s home base of Brampton, Ont., focused far more on the local campaigns overall.
The 2019 election saw an increase of visible-minority candidates, with the biggest rise coming from the NDP.
In 2015, according to Griffith, 13 per cent of their candidates were visible minorities, and that rose to 22.9 per cent in 2019.
The number of ridings where visible minorities represented 50 per cent or more of the population rose from 33 per cent in 2015 to 41 per cent in 2019, according to census data he analysed.
Griffith’s review of media coverage examined 2,500 stories in outlets representing a variety of different language groups, as well as publications in English that cater nearly exclusively to specific communities.
The goal was to assess whether someone relying exclusively on the ethnic media would have a comparable understanding of the issues to those who rely on mainstream news outlets, and the research suggested they would.
“In other words, rather than ethnic media providing a parallel and separate space and reinforcing silos, ethnic media for the most part serves an important role in political integration through its coverage of the main political issues common to all Canadians,” the analysis concluded.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 18, 2019.
A Practical Guide to Social Media Crisis Management
Today, 4.57 billion people worldwide use the internet, and almost 4 billion of those internet users are active social media users. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in online activity, with data usage increasing by almost 50% during quarantine.
California County Enlists Social Media to Thwart a Misleading Election Photo – The New York Times
Election officials in Sonoma County, Calif., asked the broader social media community on Friday to help them rebut a false report about mail-in ballots in the county.
After receiving phone calls from constituents claiming they saw online pictures of mail-in ballots in a landfill, the county posted a message on its main Twitter account alerting residents and other Twitter users that a false report was circulating. The picture showed 2018 election materials that had been sent out for recycling, as state law permits, the county said.
Help us stop a false report
Someone posted pictures on the web showing empty Vote-by-Mail envelopes from Sonoma County in recycling bins. The pictures are of old empty envelopes from the November 2018 election that were disposed of as allowed by law. pic.twitter.com/0FrhnD3jHg
— County of Sonoma (@CountyofSonoma) September 25, 2020
County officials said they were not sure of the origin of the false report, but by Friday it had been picked up by some conservative media outlets on Twitter. Conservatives and President Trump have recently seized on news reports of issues with mail-in ballots, such as nine that were found to have been discarded in a northeastern Pennsylvania county.
Sonoma County’s post underscored the difficulties that local election officials face in combating misinformation in the final six weeks before the Nov. 3 election. With the local news media in crisis across the nation, fighting misinformation largely falls on area officials, who are already stretched thin to meet the demands of the most complex election in decades.
For officials on the front lines in Sonoma, correcting the record as quickly as possible was paramount.
“I think we wanted to be proactive and make sure that people got the information from us, because we did hear from some concerned citizens,” said Deva Marie Proto, the county registrar of voters in Sonoma County.
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