Between February and May 2004, the three local coordinating councils of the Debwewin Three City Anti-racism Initiative undertook a significant project: to monitor the print media for coverage of aboriginal issues. Three media monitoring focus groups were identified in North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins. Each undertook to monitor stories featuring aboriginal content in their local daily, nearby community newspapers and a national newspaper.

The local media monitoring focus groups undertook to monitor the following print media:


North Bay
North Bay Nugget
Tribune - West Nipissing This Week
Mattawa Recorder
Almaguin News
Parry Sound North Star
Temiskaming Speaker
National Post

Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Star
Sault This Week
Wawa-Algoma News Review
Elliot Lake Standard
Manitoulin Expositor
Toronto Star

Timmins Daily Press
Timmins Times
Kirkland Lake Northern Daily News
Kapuskasing Northern Times
Iroquois Falls Enterprise
Cochrane Northland Post
Globe and Mail



The qualitative component of the research employs as an "instrument" a coding sheet for every clipped newspaper article on aboriginal issues, first categorizing it as a news story, opinion piece, photo, editorial, column, backgrounder, letter, feature, cartoon, or other.

The coding sheet makes specific references to stories about crime, protest, or tragedy and whether or not a suspect/victims are identified as aboriginal. This sorting is designed to determine if media are predisposed to negative coverage of aboriginal issues.

It noted if the article is about land claims, politics, justice, culture, living conditions, environment, health, economics, Aboriginal rights, youth, fishing/hunting, tourism, education/training, language, media/communications, spiritual beliefs or other.

By assigning a value from one to five, with one being strongly agree and five being strongly disagree, each article was evaluated with the following criteria:
  • The article examines all sides of the story;
  • The story appears to be well researched; this story is objective;
  • There is cultural stereotyping in this story; the writer shows an interest in reaching a solution;
  • The reader finds the story offensive;
  • The writer conveys a sense of optimism;
  • The headline fits the story;
  • The headline or caption is negative;
  • Proper terminology is used in this story;
  • The story deserves positive mention;
  • The article is cynical; and
  • The article treats a complex issue in a superficial manner.

Finally, the evaluation sheet for each sample has space for other comments.

In addition to the completed coding sheets for each sample, the researchers met weekly to share and discuss results and further categorize them. These discussions used the tools of critical discourse analysis, examining argumentative statements and the meaning of words used in articles. Story structure and placement were examined and rhetorical statements interpreted.

The quantitative component analyzed the number of aboriginal content stories.