An Analysis of Anti-Asian Racism on Media Outputs

(This sociology coursework is a requirement in a subject about content analysis in Practicing Social Research.)

The media is a powerful tool to feed information and awareness of any social issues in our modern time. It has a multi-platform mechanism to reach every corner of the world with significant social impact. However, with the proliferation of online media in diverse modern forms, such as social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etcetera, the question of ‘authenticity, credibility, representativeness, and meaning’ (Scott, 1990: p.6 qtd. Bryman & Bell, 2019: p. 273) is inevitable. In this sense, this short essay aims to examine and analyze selected media outputs on racism and anti-racism public awareness based on these criteria.

The general context of my documents is racism. However, the news articles’ focus is public awareness, stressing the words from those who experienced discrimination or xenophobia. The news articles are from three Canadian media outlets: Global News, CTV News Toronto, and CBC News, which became available online March 28-31, 2021. Given the media company location, the intended audience is the Canadian general public, and the implied purpose of the authors is public awareness and responsiveness. Nevertheless, since the news is available online, it is accessible anywhere, broadening its audience in a worldwide sphere.

The authenticity issue is fair enough since the author-journalists have their photos, and some have contact information regarding or considering their affiliation to their respective media companies. Media companies also have ways of filtering the information or news articles to be posted on their specific websites. Therefore, there is evidence of the genuineness and unquestionable origin (Scott, 1990: p.6 qtd. Bryman & Bell, 2019: p.273). The credibility, free from evidence of error or distortion (Scott, 1990: p.6 qtd. Bryman & Bell, 2019: p.273), is somewhat in question in some articles. For instance, the crime statistical data Simon Little of Global News reported without providing a diagram or tabulated presentation supporting his 717 percent increase in crime in 2020. The other author’s report used by Phil Tsekouras of CTV News implies that he is already the third party to use the information, which means a possibility of error and distortion is thinkable.

  On the other hand, the representativeness, which characterizes Asians is evident in the reports, conveying clear and understandable meanings. Reports consistently mention and use anti-racism and words associated with racism, such as hate crime, fear-mongering, China virus,  chink, dirty finger-pointing, spitting, and physical assaults. Phil Tsekouras and Simon Little generally mention Asians in their reports. At the same time, Matt Carty and Jessica Wong’s interviewees were of particular Asian origin, such as Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese. Such xenophobic incidents usually happen in rich countries like Canada and the United States and become prevalent or undercurrent of social life, heightened by a pandemic in which the virus originated from Asia.

I observed that Phil Tsekouras published his report’s exact content in two different titles to two media companies, with which he has an affiliation. It reflects its purpose and the author’s to reach a wider audience through an internet search. Comparatively,  all the news articles are mere collections of narratives from their interviewees. They only gave a title, serving as a one-sentence summary of all the stories they have gathered. Therefore, the article is just sending out information to the public based on victims’ experiences, lacking analysis of the subject, and not offering any practical solution for the readers or posing no challenge to the authorities.

The two main themes that emerge from the reports are Asian racism and hatred. The anti-racism rallies or demonstrations in Canada’s cities, such as Penticton, Tri-Cities, Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary (Little, 2021), only show Asian racism incessantly working in the backdrop of our social life, exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic. The word anti-Asian racism or slurs is used several times in each article, with an average of four in such short reports. Little (2021) reports significant numbers of racist incidents, such as verbal harassment, graffiti and spitting occasions, and direct assaults.

Overall, first- and second-generation Asian-Canadians are most likely to encounter such racial discrimination. Reports explicitly described Asian racism in Canada by hatred through swearing, nasty fingers, spitting, and vandalism, among similar racist language and malicious deeds. A comment like ‘go back to your home country’ to Carty’s (2021) interviewee, Aaliyah, has a profound hostile meaning among Asians.  Racism and terminologies associated with it are used about sixty-seven times, having an average of around seventeen. Notwithstanding, journalists assert that our current pandemic situation makes Asian discrimination worst, triggered by the shooting events in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States killing eight women whom six of them are of Asian origin.

Authority’s disturbing statement, primarily from the police authority, regarding the racism incidents implies some degree of bias, showing commendation or justification for the perpetrator’s action. Here is how the police authority initially explains the shooting incident in Georgia, according to Mary Reid, assistant professor at the University of Toronto (Wong, 2021):

“The words they used really put a spotlight on the killer and it devalued the victims’ lives. The police talked about the killer having a ‘bad day,’ that the killer was ‘at the end of his rope.’ […] Police went on to say that he ‘eliminated’ these locations because they were temptations for his sex addiction.”

The quotation reflects that authorities’ choice of words is not helping the victims instead lauding the offender. For the Asians or more likely to an objective reader, such a statement determines a racist’s standpoint. Accordingly, more likely, trust in police officers diminishes.

Among the four journalists, more likely of the same generation, Jessica Wong presented similar information from the education perspective. The three male reporters focused on information awareness while Wong, of Asian descent presumably, education as an arena for information dissemination aside from the media, offering potential and alternative solutions to mitigate the impact of racism to minority groups. Moreso, Wong’s approach emphasizes the feminist view since her interviewees are female of Asian origin, which could be deemed gender-biased and sounds subjective. Another point of bias is that reports only cover the side of the victims. The articles contain imbalanced information while recognizing the challenge to get the side of the racist, and no one more likely to come out to speak as xenophobic.

If I were the reporter, to make the research more comprehensive, I would gather the highlights of racism history and government anti-racism initiatives, particularly in Canada. If possible, interview participants of both male and female to represent at least the dominant gender categories. It is also significant to get people’s perspectives of those who are not directly involved in the situation, for example, non-Asian or the people who claim themselves Whites, or by chance a group, who openly consider themselves as racists. This suggestion is very challenging; however, we can reflect on both anti-racist and racist viewpoints if given the opportunity.

_________________________

References

Bryman, B. and Bell, E. (2005). Social Research Methods, Fifth Edition. Oxford University Press Canada.

Carty, M. (2021 Mar 29 updated 2021 Mar 31). ‘So Full of Hate:’ Guelph, Ont., Woman Verbally Attacked with Asian Slurs. Global News. Retrieved from URL: https://globalnews.ca/news/7726666/guelph-woman-anti-asian-slurs/

Little, S. (2021March 28 updated 2021 Mar 29). Hundreds Attended Vancouver Rally Against Anti-Asian Racism. Global News. Retrieved from URL: https://globalnews.ca/news/7725045/vancouver-anti-asian-racism-rally/

Tsekouras, P. (2021 Mar 28). Toronto’s Asian Community Rallies Against Racism in Wake of Atlanta Spa Shootings. CP24 News. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cp24.com/news/rally-held-downtown-to-raise-awareness-about-anti-asian-racism-1.5365712

Tsekouras, P. (2021 Mar 28). Toronto’s Asian Community Rallies Against Racism in Wake of Atlanta Spa Shootings. CTV News Toronto. Retrieved from URL: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/toronto-s-asian-community-rallies-against-racism-in-wake-of-atlanta-spa-shootings-1.5365699

Wong, J. (2021 Mar 30). How Teachers are Fighting Damaging Stereotypes in Class Amid Spike in Anti-Asian Attacks. CBC News.  Retrieved from URL: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/education-anti-asian-racism-1.5968251

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