Ethnic Media under a Multicultural Policy: The Case of the Korean Media in British Columbia

Sherry S. Yu
Catherine A. Murray

Canadian Ethnic Studies, Volume 39, Number 3, 2007, pp. 99-124


Vancouver is not only the second most diverse city in Canada, but it is also the site of major ethnic specialty services. It is home to one of the four multilingual television stations in Canada and more than one hundred ethnic media outlets. Together they serve approximately twenty-three language groups. Among British Columbia’s top three “mother tongue and home language” groups —Chinese, Punjabi, and Korean — the Korean community offers the largest number of media services. There are nearly thirty outlets for approximately thirty thousand people of Korean origin. That proportion becomes even more impressive when one considers that more than three hundred thousand people of Chinese origin rely on a similar number of outlets. What is the driving force behind this growth? With the increasing demographic changes within the Korean community, mainly as a result of the Business Immigration Programme enacted in 1986, the Korean media have become new business ventures to serve demographically diverse consumers. The intensified competition, however, limits what may be called “social responsibility” on the part of the media. The lack of financial and human capital in the media market further leads to reliance on homebound news and limits a balanced information feed. A hollow in national and provincial civic space and the subsequent development of a skewed sense of belonging to “home,” rather than “here,” has an impact on the formation of a functioning cultural citizenship.


Urban Mediascapes and Multicultural Flows: Assessing Vancouver's Communication Infrastructure

Daniel Ahadi,
Catherine A. Murray

Canadian Journal of Communication, Volume 34, Number 4, 2009, pp. 587-611


This article adopts a communication infrastructure model in mapping the flow and meaning of ethnic media in Vancouver and their interaction with local, national, and global conceptions of a public commons. A communication infrastructure consists of a “thick” social network of media and organizations, which create and disseminate everyday conversations and news to any given community. Without the existence of a sustainable communication infrastructure, communities cannot form and function. The intersection of social capacity and media infrastructure, then, becomes an important predictor of potential for democratic deliberation and political engagement. Presenting an empirical study of ethnic media in Vancouver, this article asks how well these outlets provide resources to construct inclusion in an urban setting. A more complex infrastructure was mapped than anticipated, but several blind spots were still found. A set of recommendations is made to expand the politics of inclusion and recognition of shared citizenship and civic engagement.


Promoting Civic Engagement through Ethic Media

Sherry Yu
Daniel Ahadi

Journal of Media and Communication, Forthcoming, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2010


Ethnic media, as defined as media printed, broadcasted or published in languages other than English or French (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), are emerging to offer new communicative civic spaces to ethno-racial citizens. Studies, however, suggest that while they may not be completely disconnected from the broader society, they remain largely “distinct from the dominant public sphere” (Karim, 2002). The majority are single-ethnic media, developing in isolation to cater to in-group interests. Such an isolationist tendency is a concern particularly in multicultural societies as to potentially intensify political, socio-economic, and cultural divides among older and new populations and develop “parallel societies” (Hafez, 2007) and fragmented citizenship. Whether or not ethnic media will lead to hindering immigrants’ civic integration by raising citizens of communities rather than citizens of the broader society needs to be empirically validated. This paper, therefore, explores the distinction between mainstream and ethnic media through a comparative content analysis on coverage of the October 14, 2008 Canadian federal election in English and Korean press in British Colombia, Canada. The findings suggest that in-group orientation is in fact more distinct in English media with significantly low attention given to ethnic minorities either as candidates or voters. Ethnic media, on the other hand, undertake significant citizenship education by delivering step-by-step “how-to” information to immigrants who are unfamiliar with the Canadian political system, to assist them in exercising voting rights.



Catherine Murray, Sherry Yu and Daniel Ahadi. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Media in BC. A Report to Department of Canadian Heritage, Western Region. SFU: Center for Policy Studies on Culture and Communities. 144 pp.

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Appendix of the final report has been updated upon request up to December 31, 2007


The recently released 2006 Census on Language, Immigration and Citizenship, and Mobility and Migration (December 4, 2007) confirm the growing presence of ethnic population in Vancouver.

- From 1996 to 2006, the population of Vancouver grew by 284,916 (from 1,831,665 to 2,116,581).

- 4 out of every 10 people are immigrants.

- 4 out of every 10 people have a non-official language as a mother tongue.

- 3 out of every 10 people speak non-official language at home (547,660 out of 2,097,965).

- Among the non-official languages, Chinese is most spoken at home (47%) followed by Punjabi (16%) and Korean (7%)

The project team will wait until April 2008 for the release of Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities data and revise the publication accordingly. Thank you for your patience (updated on December 11, 2007).



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