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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest


Covering the Community: A Diversity Handbook for Media
Leigh Stephens Aldrich

Thousand Oaks CA, New Delhi, London: Pine Forge Press, SAGE 1999
176pp. Index. Pb.: ISBN 0-7619-8513-1

Intended for professionals in American media or students in the field, Aldrich?s book attempts to raise awareness on the various means that journalists, editors, advertisers and PR practitioners have at their disposal to cover the diversity of their community. Although not particularly concerned with ethnic diversity, the author believes that in an increasingly diverse world, journalists and mass media are constantly challenged by the necessity to present the various facets of their subject and to voice different groups in order to met their professional standards of neutrality and politically correctness.

However, starting from the premise that journalists and other media professionals are a priori interested and aware of the diversity of their community, the book lacks the power of convincing on the necessity of exploring beyond the mainstream coverage. Without putting forward a strong argument in favor of diversity, without considering the target groups bureaucratic structures and cultural embeddness and how these impact on their work, it is highly unlikely to suppose that an interest for covering diversity would become a top priority in a society dominated by nationalist ideologies.

Strongly anchored in the American paradigm, the book puts forward a series of methods through which the diversity dimension could be encompassed in the end product (be it an article, a radio or TV feature, or merely an advertisement). Nonetheless, the proposed methods are quite empirical and not properly theorized. Among them, choice of words/ images/ sounds, checking for omissions, biased discoursed and stereotypes are the most important ones. But beyond the obvious passion of the discourse, the author does not proceed into deconstructing the hidden mechanisms of stereotype and hate speech. Minority coverage in mainstream media is by far a more complex and more profound phenomena, connected to political and cultural realities.

Despina Dumitrica, Open Society Foundation Romania

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