Localism, the Ethnic Minority News Audience, and Community Participation
Most discussions of media diversity have a strong producer focus and make the availability of diverse content a primary goal. This study sought to reverse that equation by examining media diversity in terms of the media consumption habits of minority populations, in an effort to determine not just what minority groups could watch, but what they do watch. Interviews with 196 ethnic minority participants in three Washington, DC metro neighborhoods provided a revealing baseline for conversations about media diversity: roughly half get their news from television, with Fox and NBC preferred. About a fourth read a newspaper. Those who listen regularly to the radio (18%) overwhelmingly preferred minority-owned stations. Disenchantment with the news as a source of useful local information was widespread, as was concern with what many believed to be sensationalist and often racist coverage of crime. The work supports the view that major broadcasters both dominate the media consumption habits of minority communities and make very little effective engagement with the lives and needs of those communities. When provided a choice within a given medium such as radio, stronger community-identified media outlets emerge as favorites.
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Benton Foundation published Byerly, Cupid, and Langmia's research in a 2006 report, entitled "Does Bigger Media Equal Better Media?" The four studies presented demonstrate the value of research from sources other than the regulators and the regulated.
Access the full report below.