Case Study in Media Bias: Racism and Online News Comment Boards

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Rogers, Doug
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Mount Saint Vincent University
There is a gap in current critical media literacy studies, in that the vast majority of studies focus exclusively on critique of national print media outlets. The internet has recently provided a new medium in the form of online mainstream national news media comment boards, where consumers of the news are allowed to post anonymously their opinions about topics in the news. The purpose of this research is to analyze a selected content of comments left on online mainstream national news media comment boards contained on Canadian national news media websites to determine the nature of democratic discourse that occurs, specifically asking whether these comments are potentially harmful and racially discriminatory to marginalized groups. Central to the theme of this research is determining what constitutes acceptable speech versus what could be considered hate speech. This research considers the media’s role in giving consumers of the media an opportunity to post unsavory viewpoints using a pseudonym. Grounded in critical race theory, this research uses critical discourse analysis to examine the contents of online mainstream national news media comment boards for racist content. It uses analytical methods that determine whether a statement is a reasonable argument or a persuasive opinion that is harmful or discriminatory toward marginalized groups. A news story from recent history has been used as the subject of this analysis. Central to education, themes of racial discrimination are examined as an argument for teaching students to be critical while promoting citizenship education.
Critical media literacy skills , Comment boards , Canada national news , Democratic discourse , Critical race theory