Study Examines Media Coverage of American Indian Controversy

Posted: April 6, 2007
A new study examining media coverage of the recent Cherokee-Freedmen story pinpoints the need for deeper knowledge and reporting of American Indian issues by mainstream media.

The study, conducted by the American Indian Policy and Media Initiative at Buffalo State College, focused on journalistic coverage surrounding the Cherokee Nation's constitutional vote to disallow citizenship to descendents of freed African slaves and to intermarried whites. The decision itself was not examined. Rather, the research analyzed mainstream news media presentation of the story, specifically how they dealt with sometimes competing issues such as the governmental sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation and citizenship issues of the Freedmen. It also looked at the news sources cited or quoted in the reports and the balance between sources on either side of the issue.

"In general, this was reported as a classic clash between oppressor and victim," said Communication Professor Ron Smith, principal researcher for the content analysis. "Missing were nuance, historical perspective, and a context within which to understand the contemporary significance of the story."

Contact: Kara Briggs, Associate Director of the Initiative (503) 577-0012. briggskm@buffalostate.edu

Ron Smith, Project Director of the Initiative (766) 878-6008. smithrd@buffalostate.edu

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