Ipperwash and the Media: Case Study of how an Aboriginal Confrontation was Covered

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A confrontation with police at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 resulted in Canada's first death of a First Nations protester in more than 100 years of land claims disputes. No media were present when police marched on a small band of protesters occupying the park, but nearly 400 newspaper articles appeared in the month after the shooting of Dudley George. These included 275 news articles, 64 opinion articles (editorials and columns) and 55 letters to the editor. These were analyzed to determine how they conformed to journalistic standards of verification and accuracy: Which sources were relied on; how were the stories framed; whose version of events was given prominence; was the opinion based on fact or stereotypes? This analysis found significant problems with the coverage. Interviews with journalists who covered the story produce some suggested best practices for covering such events in future.

Keywords: Aboriginal, First Nations, Media, Journalism, Conflict Reporting
Stream: First Nations, Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Ipperwash and the Media

Prof. John Miller

Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Professor of journalism at Ryerson University and author of Yesterday's News, a critique about daily newspaper journalism. He is one of Canada's leading researchers on media and minorities, having published a 10-year census of daily newsrooms (1994-2004) and several content analyses. His research helped him develop a course that has been mandatory for Ryerson journalism students for eight years, Covering Diversity. It won for Ryerson the prestigious Award of Excellence from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Miller is a former newspaper executive with the Torontop Star, Canada's largest daily paper.

Ref: D08P0226