Analysis: By-election ethnic media reporting and diversity demographics

Andrew Griffith and MIREMS looked at over 300 news, opinion, editorial and commentary stories from Canada’s ethnic media during Canada’s February by-election campaigns. These stories provided media coverage that would have otherwise been trapped behind language barriers and bring unique stories and perspectives from Canada’s diverse communities.

The highest volumes of stories came from Indo-Canadian media (predominantly Punjabi but also South Asian English, Hindi and Urdu) and Chinese Canadian media (Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese).

Ridings and communities with larger visible minority groups have a larger and more active multicultural and multilingual media. Their audiences are more engaged, and their coverage is more extensive, their writers and reporters often live and work in these communities. It’s local news with an often more-dedicated audience than traditional local news.

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (17-23 February 2019, last pre-election report)

Ethnic Media Coverage

All articles focused on Burnaby South. Overall, coverage remained stable at 25 articles The chart below shows the by-election coverage by language from the start of the year.

During the past week, Chinese (44 percent) and Punjabi (28 percent) media continued to comprise the majority of ethnic media coverage of the by-elections, with more articles in Korean media (16 percent) than in previous weeks.

Most stories focused on NDP leader Singh’s campaign (7 articles, many focusing on his call for a public enquiry regarding the pressure placed on former Justice minister Wilson-Raybould regarding the SNC Lavalin case), PM Trudeau’s visit (6 articles) with Peoples Party of Canada leader Bernier’s visit also covered (2 articles in Mandarin media only).

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (9-16 February 2019)

Ethnic Media Coverage

The ongoing focus on Burnaby South continued, in particular given the visit of PM Trudeau to the riding to support Liberal candidate Richard Lee. Overall, coverage remained stable at 26 articles, compared to 25 articles the previous week.

While Punjabi ((30.8 percent) and Chinese (38.5 percent) comprised the majority of ethnic media coverage of the by-elections, this was less than previous weeks. New to ethnic media coverage were two stories covered in Caribbean (English) media.

The Prime Minister’s visit featured was covered by all ethnic media covered during this period and was the focus of virtually all the articles in Chinese media. There was some mention of the ongoing scandal regarding possible interference in the judicial process involving SNC Lavalin and former justice minister Wilson-Raybould. Calls by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Jagmeet Singh for the PM to waive solicitor-client privilege were reported in Punjabi and Caribbean media.

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (31 January to 8 February 2019)

Ethnic Media Coverage

The ongoing focus on Burnaby South continued, with more articles commenting on the risks to Jagmeet Singh’s leadership of the NDP should he not win the by-election in both Punjabi and Chinese (Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin) media. Overall, coverage increased slightly to 25 articles compared to 18 the previous week (earlier weeks had 41 and 97 articles).

Media coverage was roughly evenly split between Punjabi (44 percent) and 40 percent in Chinese media.

In addition to the risks to Jagmeet Singh’s leadership, NDP fund-raising difficulties were covered as well as the Party’s poor prospects in Outremont based on polling data in Punjabi media. Singh’s universal pharmacare plan received coverage but was largely drowned out by stories concerning the risks to his leadership.

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (24-30 January 2019)

he absence of controversy in Burnaby South following previous weeks resulted in fewer articles in the ethnic media, with again the focus being on Burnaby South, with only 18 articles compared to 41 and 97 in previous weeks.

Media coverage was overwhelmingly in Punjabi (50 percent) and 27.8 percent in Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin language media. Punjabi media covered the belated resignation of Liberal MP Di Iorio (Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel). Chinese media covered the opening of the campaign office of PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Thompson and the nomination of James Seale in Outremont.

NDP leader and candidate Singh’s focus on affordable housing received widespread coverage in Punjabi media and was the focus of the one article in Korean media, with no coverage in Chinese media. The one article in Urdu media referenced immigration as an issue given Singh’s pledge to end the Safe Third Country Agreement with the USA and the number of asylum seekers.

In terms of commentary (including analysis and opinion pieces), Punjabi and South Asian English media predominated with two items apiece and Chinese one.

Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (16-23 January 2019)

Ethnic Media Coverage:

In contrast to coverage in the previous weeks, which included coverage of the general by-election announcement by more different language ethnic media, the past week was almost exclusively focused on Burnaby South and the ongoing controversy over the divisive remarks by former Liberal candidate Wang and overall issues related targeting ethnic votes, with only 41 media items compared to the 97 earlier in the month .

Media coverage was overwhelmingly in Punjabi (39 percent) and 43.9 percent in Chinese, Cantonese and Mandarin language media. There was only one tangential media reference to Outremont in the context of NDP prospects. ** ADD IMAGE** TKTKT IMAGE

The focus of candidate specific coverage was former Liberal candidate Wang and her efforts (unsuccessful) to distance herself from her comments on WeChat that basically said vote for the Chinese Canadian candidate, not the Indo-Canadian candidate. Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel’s revealing that Wang had sought being nominated and being rejected as a Conservative candidate was covered, as were Rempel’s press conference criticizing the Liberal government immigration record, including her statement that poor vetting had resulted in the killing of Burnaby teen Marrisa Shen by a Syrian refugee (charged, not yet convicted). The announcement of Wang’s replacement, Richard Lee, a former provincial politician was covered in summary fashion.