Opinions of Language Specialists

Some language specialists like Van Dijk claims that some of the following prevailing commonalities have been found in studies of the news media:

Many of the dominant topics are directly or more subtly associated with problems, difficulties, or threats to the dominant values, interests, goals, or culture.

Ethnic events are consistently described from a White, majority point of view.

Topics that are relevant for the ordinary daily life of ethnic groups, such as work, housing, health, education, political life, and culture, as well as discrimination in these areas, are hardly discussed in the press unless they lead to "problems" for society as a whole or when they are spectacular in some way.

These general trends apply directly to language minority concerns. Press coverage of the recent antibilingual education ballot measures in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Colorado reveals some insight into how information about bilingual education is circulated. Whereas newspapers are only one of several media resources available to researchers, recent studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between the representation of bilingual education in newspapers and public voting trends in the cases mentioned above, as claimed by Otto Santa Ana and Eric Johnson.

Although such studies might effectively display how periodicals tend to project images of bilingual education to the public, one must consider the many elements that constitute a newspaper article, and their various types, in order to understand the issues clearly. From the broad perspective of readership demographics to the minute detail of the individual journalist's own perspective, the final print version of a newspaper article has been wrought by multiple influences.

A specific example of this can be seen in the media coverage of the 2000 Arizona Proposition 203 campaign, also known as the "English for the Children" ballot initiative. Supporters of Proposition 203 promoted the end of bilingual education in favor of a "sheltered English immersion" approach to language minority education. Arizona media coverage surrounding this political battle reveals how newspapers communicated messages concerning bilingual education, subtly or directly.

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