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MEDIA PORTRAYALS OF CUBANS AND HAITIANS:
A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This is dedicated to the people who live these stories
and MM&I for believing.
I would like thank everyone who has not only supported, but also challenged me
in this process. I would like to thank my committee chair, Dr. Michael Leslie, for his
guidance and great effort, and willingness to challenge students. He went to great lengths
to see this project through. I would also like to thank my committee members: Dr.
Marilyn Roberts and Dr. Helena K. Sarkio. Dr. Roberts was a wonderful source of
knowledge and played an integral role in guiding my methods and findings. Dr. Sarkio
has been supportive and engaging. Her thorough editing, and advice inside and outside of
the classroom have been invaluable.
I thank family for setting an example of what hard work and dedication is all
about. They allowed me to disappear for the last semester to complete this project. I
thank my sister, Slande, for always leading the way and little brothers, James and Alix,
for being great human beings and my inspiration. Also I extend thanks to my dearest life
friends and SGRho sisters Manoucheka T., Magda, Candace, Shannon, and Mona, for
always supporting me and still being my friends despite my virtual disappearance during
I thank my mass communication and GHD partner in crime, Dawn, for being
there through the crazy adventures this past year. I could not imagine going through it
with anyone else, and I know that we'll be always be friends. I thank Chantal, for being
fabulous and very special, and for dealing with my frantic phone calls and random needs
for a boost. I thank Nicole for her courage, common sense, sense of humor, and energy. I
thank Jasmine Johnson for always putting her best foot forward and inspiring me to do
same. Her compassion and willingness to listen has made a big difference. I also thank
Fran Ricardo, Cyrus, Lohse Beeland, the Milwees, Rhonda Douglas, and all of the
amazing individuals who have helped shape my college career and overall outlook on
life. I am forever grateful for all that they have done. Finally, I thank my journalism
mentors and friends for their dedication to the field and setting an example (Jim
Baltzelle, Charles Harris, Cynthia, Daneesha, Romina, Diana, and Role Models
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS ................................................ iv
LIST OF TABLES ......... ........................................... viii
ABSTRACT ......... ................................................. ix
1 INTRODUCTION ........ ..........................................1
2 BACKGROUND ........................................... 4
Cubans and the United States ................ ......................... 4
Haitians and the United States ............... ......................... 6
3 LITERATURE REVIEW ................ .......................... 10
Media and Public Opinion ............... .......................... 10
Framing Theory and the Media Construction of Reality ................... .. 11
Minority/Immigrant Representation in Media .......................... 13
Assimilation, Core Culture and the Media: A Look at Immigration ............ 15
Homophily-Heterophily, Ethnocentrism and Media Framing .................. 18
4 METHODOLOGY .............
Newspaper Selection ........... .
Time Frame .......... .. .....
Search Term s .................
Approach and Coding .......... .
Reliability and Intersubjectivity ...
5 FINDINGS ..............
Cuban Framing ..................
Haitian Framing .................
Findings for Research Question 1 ...
Findings for Research Question 2 ...
Findings for Research Question 3 ...
Findings for Research Question 4 ...
. . . . . . . . . 2 0
. . . . . . . . . 2 1
............................. ....... 22
. . . . . . . . . 2 3
. . . . . . . . . 2 4
............................. ....... 27
... . . . . . . . . 3 1
. . . . . . . . . 3 5
. . . . . . . . . 3 6
. . . . . . . . . 3 7
. . . . . . . . . 3 9
6 CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION ............... .................. 42
Implications of This Study .............. .......................... 46
Limitations of This Study ......... ....................... ......... 50
Suggestions for Future Research ................ ..................... 50
A CODING SHEET ......... .......................................... 53
B FRAMES ........ ............................................... .54
REFERENCES ....... ............................................... 57
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................... 62
LIST OF TABLES
5-1 Cuba: Positive frames .......... ............................ ......... 29
5-2 Cuba: Negative frames .............. .................... ........ 30
5-3 Haiti: Positive frames ............................................. 32
5-4 Haiti: Negative frames ............... ........................... 33
5-5 Frames ........ ................................................. 37
B-1 Cuba: Positive frames .......... ............................ ......... 54
B-2 Cuba: Negative frames .............. .................... ........ 55
B-3 Haiti: Positive frames ............................................. 55
B-4 Haiti: Negative frames ................ ...................... 56
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication
MEDIA PORTRAYALS OF CUBANS AND HAITIANS:
A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
Chair: Michael Leslie
Major Department: Mass Communication
Cubans and Haitians presently are arguably two of the most controversial
immigrant groups in the United States. The countries are within hours by air from the
United States. Cuba, the closer of the two countries, is a mere 50 kilometers from
Florida's Key West. More than their locations, Cuba and Haiti have similarities and
differences in terms of history, and their current states are often presented as dichotomies
and present an opportunity to compare their media coverage.
New York Times articles were used to examine how Cubans and Haitians were
framed from January 1, 1994, through December 31, 2004. The analysis was
comparative, looking at differences and similarities in the coverage. A sample of 177
articles was analyzed for frequently occurring themes, catchphrases, and figures of
speech. The sample included 81 articles for Cubans and 96 for Haitians. Overall both
groups were framed negatively. Cubans were framed more positively than Haitians, with
negative and positive frames being at or near one to one ratio, 70 positive frames to 78
negative frames. Haitians were framed overwhelmingly negatively, with 206 negative
frames and 23 positive frames.
For Cubans, the three dominant positive frames that emerged were Character
Strength, Political Involvement, and Success. The most dominant negative frames for
Cubans were Delinquent Cuban Government, Character Weakness, and Immigrants. It is
important to note, the Success frame was dominated by sports and, in one case,
The most dominant positive frames for Haitians were Character Strength and
Politically Active. Only 16.6% of the stories about Haitians (n=16) contained positive
frames. There were six dominant negative frames that emerged for Haitians. They are
Character Weakness, Poor, Victim, Troubled Nation, Primitive Other, and Immigrant.
Haitians and Cubans were framed negatively, with Cubans being framed more
positively. Societal acceptance can be examined through media portrayals, as this study
has done. The coverage of these and other ethnic and migrant groups are driven by
ethnocentrism and perceived differences. Journalists need diversity education, knowledge
of mass communication theory, and representative newsrooms in order to better serve
and reflect the increasingly diverse population in the United States.
Cubans and Haitians presently are arguably two of the most controversial
immigrant groups in the United States. The countries are within hours via air from the
United States. Cuba, the closer of the two countries, is a mere 50 kilometers from
Florida's Key West. The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) (2005) World Factbook
online says that Cuba blames the 1961 U.S. embargo for its difficulties and it identifies
one of the problems with Cuba as illicit immigration to the U.S. (CIA, 2005). About
Haiti, the World Factbook says the country is plagued with political violence and is the
poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (CIA).
Cubans and Haitians have received a great deal of media coverage in the past 20
years. A noticeable amount of the stories written about Cubans and Haitians focus on
immigration issues and on the countries' turmoil which "catches our attention for a
while, but then blends into daily fare of more violence elsewhere, other famines, mass
migrations, and political strife to which we have become accustomed" (Chierici, 1996).
Their similarities and differences in terms of history and current state are often presented
as dichotomies and present an opportunity to compare their media coverage.
Scholars have noted the differential treatment in regard to immigration
policies that Cubans enjoy over Haitians:
Neither Dominicans fleeing the civil war of 1965, nor Haitians fleeing the
terror of Papa Doc Duvalier and a string of Haitian military juntas, got
comparable treatment. Washington routinely rejected asylum requests from
Haitians picked up at sea while it invariably granted asylum to the far smaller
number of Cuban balseros. Under Clinton, many Haitians were even forcibly
returned to their country. (Gonzalez, 2000, p. 108)
The purpose of this study is to take a closer look at the relationship between
each group in terms of their individual histories and their presence in the United
States. This study seeks to examine the relationship of each group with the United
States through the lenses of a major national newspaper. This thesis will use framing
analysis to examine differences in how the two groups are represented in the media
and attempt to identify some factors that may lead to differences in their
representation. Based on the assumptions of ethnocentrism and heterophily and
homophily in reporting, the following main questions are asked:
* Are Cubans and Haitians portrayed negatively?
* Are Cubans portrayed more positively than Haitians?
* Which group is portrayed to have positive qualities such as educated,
hardworking, with higher financial standing, more entrepreneurial, better
spoken, and social acceptance?
* Which group is most frequently portrayed with the opposite qualities including
being uneducated, lazy, poor, poorly spoken, and socially unaccepted?
This study is significant for two main reasons. The first is that Cubans and
Haitians are two controversial groups that get a great deal of media coverage.
Communist leader Fidel Castro has caught numerous headlines in the United States
since he has been in power. Haiti's numerous leaders have also been seen in the U.S.
news, particularly during political turbulence. Cuba and Haiti have also made
headlines with illegal immigration to the nearby United States. In addition, the two
countries are linked by their relative closeness in the Caribbean. Cuban and Haitian
migrants also live in close proximity in the United States in cites such as New York,
Miami and Chicago. Cubans and Haitians constitute two of the fastest growing
immigrant groups. Between 1990 and 2000 the Haitian population in Florida
doubled to 267,689, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2005), but other sources
estimate higher numbers (Stepick, Stepick, & Kretsedemas, 2001). As of 1999, more
than a half million Cubans lived in South Florida (Rumbaut, 1999). In Rumbaut's
South Florida sample, immigrant groups consisted of Cubans, Haitians, Jamaicans,
Colombians, Nicaraguans, Dominicans and others from Latin America and the
Caribbean. Jamaicans and Haitians are concentrated in South Florida and are among
the top recent immigration groups in terms of size (Rumbaut, 1999). The same is
true of Cubans.
This research will add to an already rich body of framing literature,
specifically regarding immigrant groups. The research is important because of the
changing make-up of the U.S. population. The United States has been described as
unfinished and a nation of immigrants (Lacey & Longman, 1997). The growth of the
number of foreign-born persons living in the United States is quite dramatic. The
immigrant population increased from 20 to 27 million between 1990 and 1997. By
1997, there were 3 million foreign-born children and nearly 11 million U.S.-born
children under 18 with at least one foreign-born parent (Rumbaut, 1999). The U.S.
Bureau of Census (2005) estimates major shifts in minority groups, with Latinos
becoming the majority by 2010. Now, more than ever, it is important to understand
the different groups that define the United States and how the media interacts with
each group and why.
Cubans and the United States
Cuba, if the United States would have been successful in its attempts, would
have been the 51st state today. But unlike Puerto Rico, Cuba and its battle-tested
independence army were hard to subdue and the U.S. occupation was difficult
(Gonzalez, 2000). The United States occupied the island-nation on three occasions
and, in order to protect their investments, installed Batista as the ruler in 1934, a man
who welcomed foreign investors (Gonzalez, 2000). By the mid-1950s under
Batista's rule Cuba's economy, which was heavily dependent on the United States,
began to collapse with high unemployment, prostitution and corruption (Gonzalez,
2000). Fidel Castro's guerrillas overthrew the dictator in 1959 (Gonzalez, 2000).
Coming to the United States
Cubans have been deemed special refugees because of the U.S. immigration
policy that allows them to stay once they set foot on U.S. soil (Gonzalez, 2000). This
policy, which many have criticized as preferential when compared to policy toward
other immigrant groups such as Haitians, is a result of the U.S.'s conflict with
communist Cuba. Since the start of his reign, the United States has made numerous
efforts to overthrow Castro. In 1994, Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president to call
for an end of this policy, after more than one million Cubans were reported to have
fled Cuba for the United States (Gonzalez, 2000).
Cuban migration to the United States began in the 1950s when Castro
initiated his radical revolution and Cubans sought asylum (Soruco, 1996). More than
215,000 left for the United States during the first four years (Gonzalez, 2000). There
were three major migrations since Castro's revolution. The first migration started in
1959 after Castro came into power and ended in 1962 during the Cuban missile
crisis. These "golden exiles" consisted of lawyers, physicians, engineers, managers,
and clerks (Soruco, 1996). A large number of these exiles were White, educated, and
city dwellers (Fagen, Brody, & O'Leary, 1968). The second migration, from 1962
though 1979, brought mostly women, young children and the relatives of the
previous refugees (Soruco, 1996). Diplomatic arrangements were made in 1966 to
conduct daily flights from Havana to Miami until 1979 (Soruco, 1996). The effects
of the exiles were felt in Miami in the form of strained resources, which led to the
Refugee Resettlement Program that relocated exiles to other parts of the country
(Soruco, 1996). The third migration, the Muriel lift refugees, came in 1980 and
included 'misfits' and mentally ill individuals (Soruco, 1996). Working class people
who wanted political asylum were also a part of this migration. This migration most
closely represented Cuba's native population (Soruco, 1996). The people were
younger and had a greater percentage of blacks and mulattos (Bach, Bach, &
Triplett, 1982). A crime wave followed these Cubans' arrivals, which stigmatized all
Muriel refugees, and all Cubans faced open hostility (Soruco, 1996). "Because the
new population was largely black, it forced the earlier arrivals to face the racial
reality of Cuba-the Cuba to which they longed to return. After Muriel, many of the
established refugees were less eager to return to the island" (Soruco, 1996, p. 10).
Life in the United States
The Cuban exile community has grown, with a powerful political machine
and extensive social networks (Soruco, 1996). Although the population is dispersing,
the largest enclave is found in South Florida. Soruco (1996) attributed Cuban's
success to their demographic makeup, hard work, and sacrifice and the generosity of
local and federal governments that helped them resettle. As mentioned previously,
the refugees of the 1960s and 1970s were largely from the upper and middle class
and brought technical skills. With those demographic characteristics, in addition to
the massive aid the federal government dispensed to them, Cubans became the
country's most prosperous Hispanic immigrants (Gonzalez, 2000).
Haitians and the United States
Haiti is the first free black nation and second oldest independent nation in the
Americas after the United States. At one point, it was the richest colony in the
Americas because of its sugar and coffee (Stepick, 1998). The relationship between
the United States and Haiti has been rocky since before the birth of the new
Republic. The slaves' victory over French colonizers ended Napoleon Bonaparte
dream of making Hispaniola a fortress island to defend French interests in the new
world (Gilles, 2002). Some historians question whether North America would be as
it is today without the Haitian Revolution (Gilles, 2002). Haitians won their
independence from their French colonizers in 1804. The United States joined
European forces in France's violent repression of Haiti's slave rebellion (Chomsky,
2003). The U.S. government refused to acknowledge the new nation's independence,
although they acknowledged former Spanish colonies like Argentina, Mexico and
Chile around 1822 (Gilles, 2000). Recognition did not come from the United States
until 1862, 37 years after France had done so. In the meantime, Haiti's government
invited slaves from around the world and especially from the United States to come
there. The potential for the new Republic giving their slaves revolutionary ideas
irritated the United States, which did not abolish slavery until 1863. Haiti's
independence threatened the slave economies of the rest of the Caribbean and the
southern United States (Stepick, 1998). Governments isolated Haiti economically
and politically and the effects of that early isolation can be seen today (Stepick,
The United States occupied Haiti on two separate occasions, the first being
from 1915 to 1934, a violent introduction of American racism to the island (Gilles,
Numerous U.S. interventions culminated in Woodrow Wilson's invasion of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where his warriors- as viciously racist as
the Administration in Washington- murdered and destroyed, reinstituted
slavery, dismantled the constitutional system because the backward Haitians
were unwilling to turn their country into a U.S. plantation, and established the
National Guards that ran the countries by violence and terror after the Marines
finally left. (Chomsky, 2003, p. 18)
U.S. political leaders have openly called Haiti a backward country, and
Haitians an inferior people. In an article about U.S. intervention in Haiti,
McLaughlin of the McLaughlin group was cited for calling Haiti a "disaster-100
years behind the rest of the Hemisphere" (Douglas, 1994).
Coming to the United States
Stepick, a leading immigration scholar, identified Haitians as an important
new immigrant group that comes from the Caribbean and one that contains many
members who are also refugees (1998). In the 1970s and 1980s the media introduced
Haitians coming to South Florida as a new phenomenon, but the only thing that was
new was the Haitians' destination (Stepick, 1998). Previous migrants relocated to
France, French-speaking Canada, the northeastern United States and the Dominican
Republic (Stepick, 1998). Haitians permanently migrated to the United States in
small numbers until the late 1950s, approximately 500 per year. Another 3,000 came
as tourists, students and on business during the same time period.
Increased immigration occurred when Kennedy objected to human rights
violations. The first people to leave were in the upper class and to the left, followed
by the Black middle class in 1964 (Stepick, 1998). In 1965, the Immigration Act
enabled close relatives to join their family members. The "boat people" phenomenon
was introduced by the media as "boatloads of seemingly desperately poor and
pathetic peoples washed onto South Florida's shores" (Boswell, 1982; Miller, 1984).
They first appeared in late 1963 and then again in 1973 (Stepick, 1998). They began
to arrive regularly in 1977. "Since then, the U.S. government has conducted a
resolute campaign to keep Haitian refugees from coming to Florida," (Stepick, 1998,
p. 5). The U.S. government identified Haitians as economic refugees like Mexicans
and Texas, despite of advocates asserting that the "boat people" were political
refugees fleeing persecution and probable death (Stepick, 1998).
The U.S. government's policy toward Haitians has been debated by
immigration scholars, some who have deemed the policy biased (Lawless, 1992).
In their dealings with Haitian immigrants, American government agencies are
clearly characterized by 'ideological and racial bias which continues to distort
decisions as to which applications for refugee status or asylum will be
approached' according to Walter Fauntroy, the Chair of the Congressional
Black Caucus Task Force on Haiti and the expanded bipartisan Congressional
Task Force on Haiti. (Lawless, 1992, p. 64)
Life in the United States
There have been a number of programs that may be reflective of what
Haitians experience when they arrive in the United States. President Jimmy Carter's
INS commissioner in 1977 wanted to be fairer towards Haitians, saying that they
should be released from jail and allowed to work. A Florida congressman called him
into his office and allegedly told him that "We don't want anymore goddam Black
refugees in Florida" (Stepick, 1998). A Haitian program was then started to return
any Haitian who arrived by airplane or boat and did not have proper documentation
(Stepick, 1998). This program also kept refugees from seeing lawyers (Stepick,
1998) and hence Haitians became the group with the highest rejection rate of
political asylum applications (Haitian Refugee Center v. Civiletti, 1980). In 1992,
President George H. Bush issued the Kennebunk Port Order that strengthened
Reagan's interdiction policy. According to this order, Haitians intercepted by the
U.S. Coast Guard would no longer have the opportunity to plead their cases to the
on-board team of the State Department and INS. They would be returned to Haiti
without the opportunity to apply for political asylum. "After the initial sympathy
they received at some of the affluent Florida beach communities, the Haitian 'boat
people' soon fell prey to the usual discriminatory treatment reserved for Blacks and
the poor in the United States" (Lawless, 1992).
Media and Public Opinion
The media have long been linked with public opinion and acceptance of
groups and ideas. "The media play a major role in framing public opinion and debate
(Beck, 1998, p. 144). In regards to social movements, the media socially construct
reality for their audience by presenting the actors and issues in a way that may
influence the public's opinion and/or action (Kruse, 2001). For individuals who have
little information, the media may be especially influential (Kruse, 2001). It is
important to examine how the media portray people and issues in order to get a
better grasp of how they fit into society.
The media use meaning-laden codes that define "reality" (Beck, 1998; Fiske,
1987). A code is a "system of signs whose rules and conventions are shared amongst
members of a culture, and which is used to generate and circulate meanings in and
for that culture" (Fiske, 1987, p. 4). Reality is not universal and is already encoded.
For example, the concept of woman has cultural codes and is interpreted in media
texts that are encountered daily (Beck, 1998).
The mass media perpetuate Western codes by playing on dichotomies
(either/or, you/me, good/bad). Those who do not fit the good qualifications
(male/white/middle class/Christian) are automatically cast as bad (Beck, 1998). The
media's influences and long-term effects are difficult to measure because of the
media's pervasiveness (Parker, 1996). Hispanics, according to Taylor, Lee, and
Stern's (1995) study of minorities and magazine advertising, are underrepresented,
which "sends a subtle signal about their lack of full acceptance in mainstream
society" (Jussim, 1990).
Framing Theory and the Media Construction of Reality
Another media function is "to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs and
codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the
larger society" (Herman & Chomsky, 1988). This is in part accomplished through
the mediated construction of reality-where the "social knowledge which the media
selectively circulate is ranked and arranged within the great normative and
evaluative classifications, within the preferred meanings and interpretations" (Hall,
1977). Media frames are usually unobtrusive and encompass principles of selection,
emphasis, exclusion, and presentation routinely used by journalists to organize
discourse (Entman, 1993). The audiences take part in framing when engaging in
meaning construction (Gamson, 1989).
Entman (1993) said the concept of framing offers a consistent way to
describe the power of communication text. Framing analysis shows the precise way
in which influence over human consciousness is exerted by the transfer (or
communication) of information from one location (news report) to that
consciousness (Gamson & Modigliani, 1989). Gitlin said that "We frame reality in
order to negotiate it, manage it, comprehend it, and choose appropriate repertoires of
cognition and action (Gitlin, 1980).
Journalists develop frames by highlighting what is important (Entman, 1993).
This is especially true within the media, where familiar cultural symbols are
employed to frame information in ways that appeal immediately to the target
audience (Nomai & Dionisopoulos, 2002). Entman also wrote that the process of
framing includes the function of selection and salience.
To frame is to select some aspect of a perceived reality and make it more
salient in communication text in such a way as to promote a particular problem
definition, casual interpretation, moral evaluation, and /or treatment
recommendation for the item discussed. Frames, then define
problems-determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and
benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose
causes-identify the forces creating the problem; make moral
judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and \ne\ft
remedies-offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely
effects. (Entman, 1993, p. 52)
Entman's problem-solution identification approach to framing will be the focus of
Familiar cultural symbols can be employed effectively to frame material,
drawing attention to certain aspects and away from others. In the framing process
potential articles are either included or excluded from a message or its interpretation
by virtue of the communicator's organizing principle (Maher, 2001). Theorists say
this theory provides a way of assessing how the media can elaborate or reinforce a
dominant public culture (Thomas & Evans, 1986).
The media also perform a crucial role in the public representation of unequal
social relations and the play of cultural power (Lacey & Longman, 1997). Through
this representation, the audience can construct a sense of who we are and are not in
relation to us and them, insider and outsider, colonizer and colonized, citizen and
foreigner, normal and the deviant, and "the west" and "the rest" (Lacey & Longman,
1997). The media can affirm cultural diversity and provide the space where identities
or the interests of others can be challenged. Lacey and Longman (1997) argue that
the mainstream media all too often produce xenophobic reporting and racist
portrayal while committing to the ideal and practice of an inclusive multi-ethnic,
Minority/Immigrant Representation in Media
Numerous mass media scholars have found that the portrayals of minorities
in the news have been negative (Entman & Rojecki, 2000; Hunt, 1997; Lester,
1996). In an analysis of network news, Entman and Rojecki (2000) found that 75.5%
of the stories focused exclusively on Whites, while 6.3% focused on non-White
groups. In this study, Blacks were disproportionately misrepresented as sources in
stories. The few stories that featured Blacks as sources dealt with sports, crime,
entertainment and discrimination. The study found that Blacks were
disproportionately represented in crime stories.
Judging from the transcribed years of ABC, the network mainly discusses
Blacks as such when they suffer or commit crime, or otherwise fall victim and
require attention from government (and, perhaps, taxpayers). By tying
appearances of Blacks so frequently to crime and victimization, the news
constructs African-Americans as a distinct source of disruption. (Entman &
Rojecki 2000, p. 67)
In a 1992 study Entman found that when African-Americans and Whites are
accused of similarly serious offenses, Blacks appear to be treated in a more
"dehumanized" manner that their White counterparts. In an inter-group comparison,
Turk, Richstad, Bryson, and Johnson (1989) found that Latinos were more likely
than Whites to be central characters in stories involving "problem issues" such as
judicial and crime (Dixon & Linz, 2000).
In Canada, Fleras (1994) explained that ethnic minority images are
consistently the stereotypical ones where unfounded generalizations veer toward
comical or grotesque. They are shown as pimps, high school dropouts, homeless
teens and drug pushers (Fleras, 1994). Fleras (1994) added that ethnic minorities'
lived experiences are reduced to the level of an "angle" for spicing up a story and
they are not shown as people with something important to say.
Merskin (1998) investigated the television portrayals of Native Americans.
Nearly one-third of the respondents found negative portrayals to be negative and
inaccurate. Merskin (1998) quoted a Kootenai man during the study about Native
Americans in media. "They keep showing us on some reservation but not really a
part of society and they always show us not fitting into society" (p. 335). Ethnic and
migrant groups are also considered on the basis of over-generalized physical,
emotional, and intellectual characteristics (Merskin, 1998). A Navajo woman in
Merskin's study pointed out that when Native Americans are portrayed, the
representations often don't consider the differences between tribes, presenting one
homogenous image (Merskin, 1998). Participants in the study also found positive
portrayals, but the portrayals were still considered inaccurate.
Researchers have asserted that the impact of minority marginality in the
media further entrenches the invisibility of ethnic minorities in society (Fleras,
1995). Some researchers have found that ethnic minorities in Canada do not see
themselves mirrored in the media, and this perpetuates feelings of rejection,
trivializes their contributions, and devalues their role as citizens in their nations
(Mahtani, 2001). This invisibility in the media contributes to a sense of"otherness"
for minority groups. Mahtani (2001) noted that,
The absence of complex representations of minorities also problematically
encourages whiteness as the norm in the media, where "whiteness quietly
embraces our common-sense ways .. of thinking .. what we are told is
'normal,' neutral or universal, simply becomes the way it is." (as cited in
Mizra, 1997, p. 3)
Assimilation, Core Culture and the Media: A Look at Immigration
Sociolinguist Joshua Fishman (1961) asserted that in American life, the core
culture or core society in American life as being made up mainly of White
Protestants in the middle class.
If there is anything in American life which can be described as an over-all
American culture which serves as a reference point for immigrants and their
children, it can best be described as, it seems to us, as the middle-class cultural
patterns of, largely, white Protestant, Anglo-Saxon origins. (Gordon, 1964, p.
It is debated whether or not there is a need for an identified core culture and to what
The core culture notion is driven by hegemonic forces, ethnocentrism, and
orientalism. Much like race, the notion of a core culture was created to distinguish
the "other." Edward Said, founder of Orientalism, suggested that the discourses of
power, culture, and imperialism historically construct binary opposition between
the East and the West, positing the Orient as the other. This Eurocentric discourse is
produced, valorized, and validated by demonized representations of the other. It is
interpreted through the intertextuality of logocentric narratives, and mediated
through texts that are far removed from the circumstantial and everyday reality of
the world (Altheide, 1994). As Said (as quoted in Altheide, 1994) observed,
[t]he power to narrate [represent] or to block other narratives from forming and
emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of
the main connections between them. ... In time, culture comes to be
associated, often aggressively, with the nation or the state; this differentiates
"us" from "them," almost always with some degree of xenophobia. Culture in
this sense is a source of identity, and a rather combative one at that, as we see
in recent "returns" to culture and tradition. (Altheide, 1994)
Alba and Nee (1997) defend the usefulness of assimilation but argue that
Gordon's (1964) ideas of a core culture, which resembles that of Huntington (2004)
on some level does not fully recognize that the United States is more mixed and the
American culture continues to evolve. Alba and Nee said that with minority ethnic
cultures within the mainstream, their cultures are absorbed along with their Anglo-
American equivalents. This absorption creates a hybrid culture (Alba & Nee, 1997).
The idea that the culture is still evolving supports the existence of a core culture
because the core culture is consistently changing. Congruent with hegemony, which
provides an explanation to the struggle within the power structure of a society,
noting tactics the dominant group uses to maintain power, there will always be a
dominant group, although the membership may change. While hegemonic forces
deeply saturate the consciousness of society as a complex combination of internal
structures that must be continually renewed, recreated, and defended, Raymond
Williams explained that these structures are regularly challenged and may be
modified by emergent oppositional and alternative forces within society (Williams,
Huntington (2004) asserts strongly that there is a core culture that all who wish to
be successful in the United States must prescribe to and embrace. He said that, "There is
only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican Americans
will share that dream in English" (2004, p.45). Huntington defends and explains the
plight of the nativists who feel threatened by the emergence of a new majority that
changes the political and cultural landscape of the United States. Huntington's notions
blanketed in the language of war, are outdated, although he obviously is not alone in his
views. He cites Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1917, said there must be one flag and one
language. Roosevelt didn't say which language, but Huntington insists it must be the
language of the Declaration of Independence and other famous speeches in U.S. history.
Huntington and Parks (1928) do share in the sentiment of potential conflict in
how immigrants interact with the host society. Parks recognizes that the process of
assimilation (and acculturation) take place at varying speeds, and the process is slower
when people who are radically different come together. He said that racial problems
occur in situations where assimilation and acculturation take place very slowly or not at
all. Whereas Parks notes that the conflicts arise out of difference in physical traits, which
make it difficult to fully assimilate as with the example of the Japanese, Huntington is a
bit more specific about his ideas. Huntington claims that Latin Americans, specifically
Mexicans and Cubans, and their unwillingness to assimilate and speak English are the
cause of conflict. Huntington said that White Anglos have fought back by passing
legislation such as Proposition 187 that limits social services to children of illegal
immigrants, and will continue to fight back by other means.
Huntington's notions of core culture and assimilation to assess the impact of
Latino, and particularly Mexican, migration on U.S. society are in direct conflict with
Parks (1928), who celebrated the marginal men that represent immigrants. Parks wrote,
"He was a man on the margin of two cultures and two societies, which never completely
interpenetrated and fused," (1928, p. 892). Huntington's notions challenge Alba and
Nee's assumptions that both cultures are changed in the process of assimilation to be the
reality. Huntington's notions on the impact of culture class are fruitful in providing
another perspective, that of nativists, which is an important one to have when considering
the coverage of immigrant groups in the media.
Homophily-Heterophily, Ethnocentrism and Media Framing
Homophily refers to the similarities that individuals who interact share such as
beliefs, values, education, cultural similarities, race, social status, etc. (Rogers &
Bhowmik, 1970). Heterophily refers to differences along the same dimensions. The
phenomenon of ethnocentrism is defined by Preiswerk and Perrot as "The attitude of a
group which consists of attributing to itself a central position compared to other groups,
valuing positively its achievements and particular characteristics, adopting a projective
type of behavior towards out groups and interpreting the out groups' behavior through
the in group's mode of thinking" (1978, p. 14). Homophily and heterophily provide the
reference point in which people see themselves, especially in regard to the common
cultural values that Entman identified are used to define problems in the process framing.
Gans (1980) identified a classic typology of "enduring values" of U.S. journalists
that Gans labels as "ethnocentrism and "altruistic democracy." In ethnocentrism, the
U.S. is the best country in the world, and in altruistic democracy, U.S. politics reflect
public interest. Journalists are telling the story of America even when they try to be
objective, (Gans, 1980). These enduring values have often been tested in research to
examine U.S. media coverage of issues in other countries. Portrayals of countries that are
culturally, economically, and politically close, regardless of size or proximity, make
ethnocentric bias evident (McQuail, 1987). In a study of U.S. newspaper coverage of
Sudanese refugees, Robins (2003) found that many of the articles recycled incomplete
images of Africa to meet American expectations.
Negative events in another part of the world do not bear the same relationship to
these norms and are therefore read differently. Third World countries are, for
example, conventionally represented in western news as places of famines and
natural disaster, of social revolution, and of political corruption. These events are
not seen as disrupting their social norms, but as confirming ours, confirming our
dominant sense that western democracies provide the basics of life for everyone,
are stable, and fairly and honestly governed. (Fiske 1987, p. 285, as cited by
It is assumed that U.S. journalists are influenced by both homophily-heterophily
as well as ethnocentrism. It is with these assumptions that the following research
questions are posed:
* RI: Are Haitians and Cubans portrayed negatively in The New York Times?
* R2: Are Cubans are portrayed more positively than Haitians in The New York
* R3: Which group is portrayed to have positive qualities such as educated,
hardworking, with higher financial standing, more entrepreneurial, better spoken,
and social acceptance in The New York Times?
* R4: Which group is most frequently portrayed with opposite qualities including
being uneducated, lazy, poor, poorly spoken, and socially unaccepted in The New
These positive and negative attributes were chosen because they are often referred
to in conversations about American life. They are based on the standards of the "core
culture." Those who are successful in American society are those, as Huntington noted,
who possess the attributes of the founders and other Americans, with language as an
example. Hard work and entrepreneurship are some of the principles celebrated by the
Protestant ethic on which the United States was founded. These principals fuel the
American dream. Negative attributes are in turn, those that do not fit into the ideal
American society. Those with negative attributes such as lazy are considered misfits and
as the literature suggests are demonized.
This analysis focuses on newspaper news accounts of Cubans and Haitians to
answer the research questions. Frames were extracted from the articles in order to
perform this task using articles from the New York Times.
Frame analysis was chosen as a method because of its qualitative strengths and
systematic possibilities. Framing analysis "is more far-reaching than a simple explanation
of the themes or subjects," noted Kerbel, Apee, and Ross (2000, p. 12) Advocates of this
approach assert that "that framing analysis offers media researchers better techniques
with which to (a) observe the content of messages and of the frame or frames in these
messages and (b) design studies that explore the effects of these frames on outcomes
spanning individual to group processes" (Esser & D'Angelo, 2003, p. 622; D'Angelo,
2002; Scheufele, 1999).
A cultural studies approach will be used to investigate the research questions.
Carragee and Roefs (2004) suggest, in keeping with early sociological research on
framing, framing processes be examined within the context of the distribution of social
and political power. As this literature review has argued, there are number of factors that
may impact how immigrant groups are portrayed, including their role in the political and
social structure in the United States. As Carragee and Roefs (2004) cited, the origins of
frame research in media sociology directly linked the framing process to the distribution
of social and political power of America (Gitlin, 1980; Tuchman, 1978). Carragee and
Roefs' (2004) critique and suggestions on how framing research is approached resembles
that of Entman (1993), who called for different ideas on framing analysis to be brought
together in one location to address what he termed the "fractured paradigm."
News articles were sampled from the New York Times, which is considered the
most prestigious national newspaper, and because Times coverage of the two groups is
perhaps the most indicative of national media coverage (Winter & Eyal, 1981). In
addition to its national circulation, New York Times wire articles are also used by smaller
newspapers throughout the nation. There are also large populations of Cubans and
Haitians living in New York City and its surrounding areas. The New York Times has a
circulation of more than one million, the third largest circulation in the United States,
according to Editor and Publisher, the U.S. newspaper trade organization (Aiken, 2003).
According to Merrill, the New York Times is thorough, a characteristic that warrants the
label "the paper of record" (Merrill, 1968). It is this label that fosters trust among readers,
which could heighten the effectiveness of the frames they create and/or reflect. It is not
expected that all articles used in this analysis were well read by all subscribers or people
with access, but the New York Times' circulation size and influence in setting the national
agenda suggest that the articles were read by a large audience.
It is important to note that in addition to being circulated throughout the country,
the New York Times primarily serves New York City, perhaps the most diverse city in the
United States. Often used as a point of entry, New York City and surrounding areas are
home to large immigrant populations. In serving such a diverse population one could
reasonably assume that the New York Times' coverage would be representative of this
environment. With so many different immigrant groups living in this coverage area, it
would have been possible to choose two other groups to analyze. However, as stated in
the introduction, Cubans and Haitians have a unique relationship in terms of how they fit
in American society.
The sample was from January 1, 1994, to December 31, 2004. The dates were
selected to reflect the events of the past 11 years. Originally, the time frame included
January 1, 1994, through January 1, 2004. An additional year was added in order to have
more articles and, in turn, better representation of the universe. Each group has specific
events that have lead to media coverage, but the dates are not in sync. For example, the
Elian Gonzalez custody story started at the end of 1999, while Haiti experienced turmoil
that lead to the ousting of its president in 2003. There were also high levels of
immigration during this period, which is addressed in the background section. Scattering
the dates could potentially compromise the systematic approach of the research. Looking
at the past decade allows sufficient opportunity to collect diverse data for both groups.
The article search yielded 177 articles that were coded. There were 96 articles for
Haitians and 81 articles for Cubans. Nine constructed weeks were taken from each five-
year period as suggested by Lacy, Riffe, Stoddard, Martin, and Chang (2001). Lacy et al.
examined a 5-year sample of news articles from one newspaper, using 6 to 10 weeks, to
see which sample would be most efficient in inferring to the population. They concluded
that 9 constructed weeks for every five-period provided maximum efficiency. This
procedure is likely to include variations across years because all years are included
during the period (Lacy et al., 2001). Two random weeks were constructed for the 11th
year. Lacy et al. noted research sampling less than 5 years should use 2 constructed
weeks from each year (2001). These methods were replicated to sample articles for this
Constructed week samples identify all Mondays, and randomly select one
Monday, then identify all Tuesdays, and randomly select one Tuesday to "construct" a
week that ensures each source of cyclic variation-each day of the week is represented
equally" (Lacy et al., 2001, p. 837).
The articles were sampled from the LexisNexis Newspaper database. The
purposive sample includes news and features articles and excludes editorials, reviews,
letters to the editors, etc. The search terms used were Cuba or Cuban and Haiti or
Haitian in two separate searches. Only stories that are about or focus on Cuba, Cuban(s),
Haiti, or Haitian(s) were selected. Articles that mention the search terms in passing, such
as a geographical point of reference, were excluded.
Approach and Coding
Early and some current framing research involve one researcher working alone as
the sole expert at identifying frames (Tankard, 2003). The "List of Frames" approach was
used to measure media frames. For the purpose of this research, this list will be referred
to as the Framing Analysis Guide. This approach is based on the theoretical definition of
framing that asserts:
A frame is a central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and
suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and
elaboration. (Tankard, 2003, p. 100-101).
The idea of elaboration was added to include the function of building a frame (Tankard,
This approach proposes identifying a guide for examining the domain under
discussion (Tankard, 2003). The Framing Analysis Guide method focuses on how the
issue is defined by inclusion and exclusion of certain key terms, uncovering terms
through an examination of media content through a list of framing mechanisms (Tankard,
2003). A list of 11 such mechanisms, or focal points, was proposed to identify framing
* Headlines and kickers (small headlines over the main headlines).
S Photo captions.
S Leads (the beginning of news stories).
* Selection of sources or affiliations.
* Selection of quotes.
S Pull quotes (quotes that are blown up in size for emphasis).
S Logos (graphic identification of the particular series an article belongs to).
* Statistics, charts, and graphs.
* Concluding statements or paragraphs of articles.
According to Tankard (2003), this approach makes the rules for identifying
frames explicit and takes the subjectivity out of frame identification. Tankard said
The approach is not necessarily heavily quantitative. Rather, it attempts to be
systematic about frame identification and to show that there are defining
characteristics of media frames that different observers can recognize and agree
upon. The point is not to be quantitative for its own sake, but to take the
subjectivity out of the identification of frames. (pp. 103-4)
Each article was regarded as unit of analysis and only text was analyzed.
Photographs were not analyzed, so mechanisms three and four were not coded. Also,
LexisNexis articles did not include mechanisms 8, 9 and 10, so they were also excluded
from the analysis. Articles were first read and coded for attributes that emerged. Similar
attributes were aggregated into frames (Appendix B).
Reliability and Intersubjectivity
References to the issue of reliability involved in frame analysis were made by
It is difficult... to get adequate reliability with such a genotypic category as a
frame or a story line. But by identifying the particular signature elements for a
given frame-the metaphors, catchphrases, or other symbolic devices typically
used to convey it-it is possible to find phenotypic expressions that can be reliably
coded. (p. 159)
Three coders were used for the print material. The codebook was explained and
coders worked at an individual pace. The researcher followed Gamson and Modigliani
(1989) in presenting detailed examples of the most commonly used frames to allow
readers to form their own judgments about the validity of the frames used (Kruse, 2001).
The same coder coded the material at two different times. Coders discussed the data for
richness and reconciled any conflicts. Attributes were identified and frames grouped by
likeness once all articles were coded. The most dominant frames are discussed in
Each coder had a distinct background, which may have affected the way coding
was approached, which was balanced by the Frame Guide to add objectivity. The first
coder was a female from Haiti who has lived in the United States for 15 years. She
studied mass communication at the graduate level at the University of Florida. The
second coder was a female international student from Sri Lanka. She had been in the
United States for five years and studied mass communication at the graduate level at the
University of Florida. The third coder was a White female native to Florida. She was
married to a Cuban-American man and studied environmental science at the
undergraduate level. All coders were fluent in English. The various backgrounds of the
coders provided a rich opportunity for testing intersubjectivity. Very few differences
existed when coding was discussed. It is also important to note that the three coders were
not members of what has been called the "core culture" because of their backgrounds and
life experiences. It can be argued that their different cultures and experiences may have
colored the way they saw Haitians and Cubanssee portrayed in the media. Still, it is
believed that this study can be replicated with essentially the same findings using coders
from the "core culture" (White, middle-class, Protestant) with similar findings.
This analysis is concerned with the frames that New York Times articles used to
portray Cubans and Haitians. A total of 177 articles were examined: 81 for Cubans and
96 for Haitians. The articles were analyzed for frequently occurring words, catchphrases,
themes and reporters' frames with the use of Tankards' (2003) mechanism identified in
Chapter 4. Frames were identified as either positive (+) or negative (-) to answer the
research questions. Neutral frames are also discussed in this analysis. Neutral frames are
those that do not show the groups) in either a positive or negative light. For example,
some articles identified Cuban exiles as being anti-Castro without making judgments.
The study revealed major frames that both groups shared, as well as frames that were
unique to each group. An article could possess positive and negative frames.
The news coverage reflected times where the groups had salient issues in the
news. Coverage of Haitians peaked in 1994, a year with a great deal of political activity
in Haiti, as well as attempted immigration to the United States. There were at least four
articles in less salient years. Coverage of Cubans was a bit more sporadic. In 1997, there
was only one article, but in 2000, in the midst of the Elian Gonzalez case, there were 21
The articles appeared in various sections in the newspapers, including sports, the
front page and metropolitan sections. The coverage was at two geographical levels for
Haitians and three levels for Cubans. For Haitians, articles that originated in Haiti
dominated. These stories were about natural disasters, politics, Haiti's economy and U.S.
involvement in Haiti. The next level was Haitians in the United States, which had many
references to Abner Louima, a man who was physically assaulted by police officers in
New York and also mostly covered immigration. Cubans were covered primarily in the
United States with articles on immigration, defection and politics. In term of politics,
Cuban leaders emerged out of South Florida and New York. Next, Cubans were covered
in Cuba, which resulted in most of the neutral frames because they simply framed Cuba
as a communist nation and Cuban Americans as defectors and anti-Castro. In a few
instances, Cubans were covered in other countries, as was the case of the article on
Cuban doctors working in South Africa.
We will first look at the frames that emerged during this study and then answer
the research questions. For Cubans, the three dominant positive frames that emerged
were Character Strength, Political Involvement, and Success. All articles quoted in this
chapter are from the New York Times, published between January 1, 1994, and December
31, 2004. Individual authors' names are given in the text.
The Character Strength Frame, the most dominant overall frame for Cubans, as
well as the most dominant positive frame for Cubans, encompassed desirable traits such
as courageous, hardworking, religious, forgiving, loyal, family oriented, innovative, and
compassionate. Defectors, especially sports stars and dancers, were shown as courageous
as their stories were told with movement. This can best be illustrated in a story about a
member of the Cuban boxing team who got in touch with his former teammate, who also
"What a beautiful coincidence," said Barthemely, a welterweight who defected by
swimming 11 miles across Guantanamo Bay to the United States Navy Base on
Cuba's southern tip in September 1993.... Hurtado said that, like other Cuban
athletes who have defected, he would like to turn professional. (AP, November 2,
Table 5-1. Cuba: Positive frames
Percent distribution of
Frame Positive frames and (overall %) Appearance
Character strength 44 (18) 31
Politically active 34 (14) 24
Successful 16(6) 11
Competent to choose 3 (1) 2
Culturally influential 1 (-) 1
Creative 1 (-) 1
Note: Percentages less than one were not listed.
The Character Strength Frame had a larger presence for Cubans in Cuba than
those in the United States. American sources are often used to validate the positive
characteristics. This can be seen in a story about Cuban refugees waiting in Panama to go
to the United States:
"I'm confident the world, including the United States, will find a solution to this,"
General Wilson said. "Most of these people are well-educated and decent. They
just want to get out of Limbo and get on with their lives." (Special to The New
York Times, December 12, 1994)
The Political Involvement Frame was used to show Cubans as not only involved
in politics, but also influential in this arena. While Cubans in the United States as well as
those in Cuba are shown in the frame, the political influence was limited to Cubans in the
United States and much of the influence, according to the articles, was toward
influencing the fate of exiles and U.S. policy toward Castro's government. As for
influence on policy toward Cuba, an article on the U.S. easing sanctions on Cuba
provides a good example.
Anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in Florida, a hotly contested state in the
presidential election, were able to win new restrictions on travel to Cuba and
prohibitions on the United States government credit and private financing for any
sales. (Holmes & Alvarez, October 19, 2000)
This frame was most evident during the Elian Gonzalez story that began in late
1999. In one article, one of the other survivors of the same boat trip as Elian Gonzalez
sought help from the Cuban community, specifically the Cuban American National
But Ms. Horta said that if the foundation "moved mountains" for Elian, it could
do something to get her daughter out of Cuba. (AP, November 7, 2000)
The Success Frame was prominent mostly in reference to sports, specifically
baseball. Baseball player Orlando Hernandez was shown as the poster boy for Cuban
success stories. One story led with
Looking more like a major league veteran than a refugee who has been in the
United States half a year, Orlando Hernandez turned in another superb effort
tonight on his climb through the Yankee system. (The New York Times, April 28,
While the successful athletes appear as positive frames, their portrayed dominance in this
arena resemble that of African-Americans.
The most dominant negative frames for Cubans were Delinquent Cuban
Government, Character Weakness, and Immigrants.
Table 5-2. Cuba: Negative frames
Cuba- economic turmoil
Dominated by U.S.
Percent distribution of negative
frames and (overall %)
Not human 1 (-) 1
Cuba not free 1 (-) 1
Communist Cuba 3 (1) 2
Note: Percentage does not equal 100 because not all frames were used for this chart.
Percentages less than one were not listed.
The Immigrant Frame includes showing Cubans as desperate, refugees and
highlights the preferential treatment that Cubans receive from the U.S. government.
The Cuban refugees, more than 30,000, had set out for Florida in boats and rafts
over the summer, when American immigration policy changed to deny them entry
into the country.
The story continues:
Before the raft refugees there were "fence jumpers" like Felix Wilson, 56.
(Navarro, December 24, 1994)
The Delinquent Cuban Government Frame included human rights violations,
abuse and untrustworthiness of the Cuban government and President Fidel Castro. One
article demonstrated how comparisons are used to highlight Cuba's differences. The
article compares Cuba's political situation to the openness of the baseball gesture.
Despite the excitement over the Baltimore Orioles' exhibition game here and the
veneer of openness it conveys, American baseball comes to Cuba in a climate of
heightened political repression.
The same article compares the situation to the visit from the Pope.
International human rights monitors said Cuba's latest retrenching only served to
underscore how little the situation has changed, even after Pope Paul II, during
his visit here last year, urged Cuba to open up to the world. But perhaps because
of the high expectations raised by the Pope's visit, the Government now finds
itself the target of international condemnation over its new curbs and the recent
sentencing of four dissidents charged with sedition. (Navarro, March 28, 1999).
The Character Weakness Frame is the opposite of the Character Strength Frame,
and highlights undesired traits such as untrustworthiness, criminality, selfishness and
dishonesty. This frame is best demonstrated in the article about a Cuban I.N.S. official
who was accused of espionage and framed as untrustworthy and criminal.
"He disclosed classified information for no better purpose than his own personal
reasons, his own personal gain," Mr. Miner said. "He took it to the realm of
control to the United States government and gave it to someone else to use
however they wanted." (Bragg, May 31, 2000)
As can be seen in Tables 5-3 and 5-4, far more negative frames emerged for
Haitians than positive frames. Only 16.6% of the stories about Haitians (n=16) contained
positive frames. The most dominant positive frames for Haitians were Character
Strength, and Politically Active.
Table 5-3. Haiti: Positive frames
Percent distribution of positive
Frame frames and (overall %) Appearance
Character Strength 57 (6) 13
Politically Active 30 (3) 7
Successful 4 (-) 1
Entrepreneurial 9 (1) 2
Note: Percentages less than one were not listed.
The Character Strength Frame, which was found in only six articles encompassed
persistence, courage and hardworking. One example of this frame was shown in an
article about a Haitian female journalism that was battling with the Haitian government.
She is shown as educated, courageous and resilient:
A homecoming queen turned crusading journalist, she is tall and elegant. Her hair
pulled back smartly, she looks you straight in the eye.
The article continues
She joined the station, and they (Montas and her future husband) became an
elegant couple, who did stories on controversial topics that tested how far they
could push the limits-Jean called it sniffing. (Gonzalez, March 29, 2003)
It's important to note that this article contained some of the most negative frames
about Haitians, specifically political leaders and business people in Haiti. This is most
apparent in the story's lead:
The Haitian government wants Michele Montas to believe that common criminals
killed her husband, Jean Dominique. Never mind that he was the country's
most famous journalist and fiercest critic of government corruption. Never mind
that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and several government ministers reportedly
huddled with the investigating judge before the indictments were issued on
Monday. (Gonzalez, March 29, 2003)
The Politically Active Frame did not indicate political influence and only
appeared in seven articles. Also Haitians political activity in the United States is often
subsidizes by supporters or sympathizers, as was the case of Abner Loiuma, who was
advised by the Reverend Al Sharpton and the politicians who have joined in to support
refugees. An article on the reaction of Haitians in Little Haiti in Miami on the violence in
Haiti and refugees coming to the United States illustrates this, but not without showing
Haitians as victims.
Many of the detainees, who are being held at the Broward Transitional Center,
have lost relatives in the violence that has swept Haiti in the recent weeks, Ms.
Little said .... Ms. Little and other immigration advocates are lobbying
Washington to ease its policy on Haitian refugees. In the immediate term, they
seek temporary protective status for Haitians here who might otherwise be
deported. But Representative Kendrick B. Meek, a Miami Democrat who joined
in their effort, said there had been no progress. (Goodnough, February 24, 2004)
There were six dominant negative frames that emerged for Haitians. They are
Character Weakness, Poor, Victim, Troubled Nation, Primitive Other, and Immigrant.
Table 5-4. Haiti: Negative frames
Percent distribution of negative
Frame frames and (overall %) Appearance
Character Weakness 19 (17) 39
Poor 17(15) 34
Victim 13 (12) 27
Troubled Nation 12(11) 25
Primitive Other 10 (9) 21
Immigrant 11 (9) 22
Voodoo 1(-) 2
Drugs 1.5(-) 3
a burden 1.5(-) 3
U.S. as savior 4 (3) 8
Note: Percentages less than one were not listed.
The Character Weakness Frame, the most dominant frame, identifies undesirable
attributes such as criminality, cunningness, delinquency, and untrustworthiness. One
article used quoted an unnamed diplomat to construct this frame.
"Aristide has completely outwitted the Americans on this," one diplomat here
said. "Rather than confront his patrons directly, he has moved inn a roundabout,
typically Haitian fashion to dismantle the army." (Rohter, February 22, 1995)
The Poor Frame, the second most dominant frame for Haiti and Haitians, included
Haitians in Haiti and abroad, with Haiti frequently referred to as "the poorest nation in
the Western Hemisphere." Approximately one third of the articles (n=30) framed Haiti
the country, Haitians in Haiti, and Haitians in the United States as poor. One technique
that was repeated in addition to the above stated catchphrase was the identification of
slums or other places of residence:
Said Joseph Antonio Cochon, 42, a militant in La Saline, a lawless slum here.
(Polgreen, October 7, 2004).
In Cite Soleil, a slum whose residents have benefited from water, food and
schools provided by Mr. Aristide. (Gonzalez, November 27, 2000)
The Victim Frame was the most subtle frame. Haitians were portrayed as victims
lacking agency, mostly in situations out of their control. This was most apparent in
coverage of floods and hurricanes as well as the Abner Louima case.
The Troubled Nation Frame showed Haiti as a lost state with violence and chaos.
Haiti was shown as hopeless, helpless and a waste of time and resources. One article
epitomized this frame, starting with its headline, "Life is Hard and Short in Haiti's Bleak
Villages." The story lead was the following:
Diplomats call Haiti a "failed state," a nation done in by dictators and disasters.
(Weiner, March 14, 2004)
The article continued
Governments and juntas rise and fall, 15 in the last 18 years, doing nothing to
stop Haiti from sliding off into the sea. ... In a country where nothing works, the
group looks after 200,000 people.
Additionally, Weiner included voodoo in his article, a frame that emerged, but was not
"If we had someone to represent us in the government, I would say to him, we
cannot live in a nation without security," said Mr. Dipera, the voodoo priest of
Plaine Danger. "There is no law here."
This frame confirms Stepick's observation that people hold the folk model that
imagines that Haitians' religion is filled with real cannibals and zombies (Stepick, 1998).
The Primitive Other Frame, inspired by the concept of Orientalism, shows
Haitians as childlike, barbaric and not completely human. In immigration articles
Haitians are described like objects, with the words packed, crammed and jammed.
Hurricane articles, especially those in 2004 were even more brutal of their descriptions of
Haitians corpses. One example of this frame showing Haitians as childlike can be seen in
an article that talks about Haiti's army in 1994. The story's headline was "Haiti's New
Militia Drills with Sticks."
During earlier drills, when some of them had been told to aim and dry fire their
weapons, they had yelled, "Bang!" (Bragg, August 11, 1994)
Another article uses a quote to accomplish a similar feat of framing Haitians as inferior.
"Haitians are being ground up like hamburger because the clowns who run the
government don't know how to behave like adults," Mr. Obey said. (Greenhouse,
April 15, 1994)
The Immigrant Frame showed Haitians as unwanted elements in receiving or host
societies, specifically the United States. In this frame, Haitians were often identified as
"Haitian immigrants" and referred to as "boat people." In the 14 articles that mentioned
the Louima case, only one did not identify him as a Haitian immigrant.
Findings for Research Question 1
The first research question asked if Haitians and Cubans are portrayed negatively.
The data supports that Haitians and Cubans were portrayed negatively.
While positive frames appeared frequently for Cubans, almost just as many
negative frames appeared. Some of the positive frames such as Successful had negative
implications by showing mostly athletes as successful. When Cuban leaders were shown,
they were sometimes shown as controlling as was the case of the Mayor of Hialeah. The
story had the headline, "A South Florida Strongman Pushes for Secession from Miami-
Dade County." Although the article describes the Mayor as charismatic, they also show
him as a micro-manager and politically motivated. The Cuban government was framed as
communists, which in the United States is seen as an enemy, even after the end of the
Cold War. The Cuban government was responsible for most of the negative frames,
including Character Weakness.
The data clearly shows that Haitians are framed negatively, especially when
looking at the lack of positive frames and abundance of negative frames that appeared for
this group. The Haitian government, much like that of Cuba, owned a great deal of the
negative frames, such as corrupt and unstable. Haiti was portrayed as poor and helpless,
dependent on the U.S. for survival. One article about a get rich scheme, showed Haitians
as gullible, childlike and greedy. That same sort of story is shown in the U.S. frequently,
but in those cases Americans are shown as innocent victims. Haitians in the United States
did not fare any better that those living in Haiti. Haitians in the U.S. were portrayed as
victims, unfaithful and criminal.
Findings for Research Question 2
The second research question asked if Cubans are framed more positively than
Haitians. The data suggests that this question can be answered affirmatively.
Table 5-5. Frames
Positive Negative Neutral
Cubans 70 78 22
Haitians 23 206 5
Negative frames of Haitians appeared almost ten times more that positive frames.
Only 10% of the frames that appeared for Haitians were positive. Cubans fared much
better. There is almost a one to one ratio of the appearance of positive frames to negative
frames. As noted previously, Cubans are framed as having positive characteristics such
as successful, courageous, educated and religious. Positive frames for Haitians consisted
of politically active, resilient and hardworking, but again these frames were few. One
way to illustrate this assertion is to compare how Cubans and Haitians in the United
States were identified. Cubans in the United were most often identified as exiles, while
Haitians are identified as immigrants and refugees. Exiles are heroic in that they rejected
Castro and Communism. They fled toward democracies, which the West reveres. In the
case of Abner Louima, when he was repeatedly identified as a Haitian immigrant,
perhaps being identified as a Haitian or an immigrant would have made the frame less
effective. The ethnicity and citizenship status of the officers accused of abusing him were
not any of the articles. In a time when immigration is a topic of heated debate, identifying
someone as such, unnecessarily, as in the case of Louima, becomes a powerful framing
technique. Lou Dobbs and other American figures and politicians have made it clear that
they do not want more immigrants entering this nation, despite the fact that it was
founded by immigrants.
Findings for Research Question 3
The third research question asked which group is portrayed to have positive
qualities such as educated, hardworking, with higher financial standing, more
entrepreneurial, better spoken, and social acceptance. Cubans were shown as having
positive qualities. Articles about the last two U.S. elections made mention of Cubans'
cultural and political influence. Articles about the U.S. policy in Cuba note that
American politicians were trying to please Cubans in South Florida. Character Strength
was by the dominant frame. Three articles framed Cubans as educated, using doctors and
scholars as sources. Surprisingly only two articles framed Cubans as religious, but
another two framed them as forgiving.
Three articles portrayed Cubans as hardworking. One example of this frame can
be seen in an article on Cuban doctors working in South Africa.
The Cubans all speak English. Besides, the nurses say, the Cubans are far more
willing than the South Africans to learn Zulu.
"They try very hard," said Latine Sizani, who has worked at the hospital for 24
years. "And besides, the patients-they can always read from the face if he is a
"The feedback we are getting is that we are getting more than we paid for," Mr.
Hlongwane said. "They are a caring lot and they are not materialistic. They are
doing more than their contracts ask them to do." (Daley, May 10, 1998)
Cubans were shown to be more financially stable. Cubans in the U.S. that
appeared in articles had employment and some were wealthy. Cuba was not framed as a
poor country. In fact, one article portrayed Cuba as exceptional in comparison to
countries that are supposed to be on its level. This can be seen in the lead of an article
about Cuba's health care system.
At the big, modern hospital on one end of this provincial city, the medical staff
commands the sort of technology that most poor countries can only dream about.
(Golden, October 30, 1994)
Neither group was shown as entrepreneurial and there was not enough evidence to
show which group was shown as better spoken. In terms of social acceptance, Cubans
were shown as the group that was more accepted by American society. From the
sympathetic quote above from Bob Dole about the decency of the Cuban people to an
article about a building in South Florida that is a 'beacon' to exiles, Cubans are shown as
a part of American society. It is, however, important to note that in two articles there
appeared to be some backlash towards, specifically regarding the use of their political
influence. This can best seen in an article regarding special accommodations made to
certify Cuban Doctors in the United States.
First, the person who pushed for the accommodations was discredited:
State Senator Alberto Gutman, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami who
has been sentenced to prison for Medicare fraud and gave up his seat last year
after he was indicted, persuaded the Board of Medicine to change some questions
and translate the exam into Spanish.
The Cuban doctors were then shown as monsters being released:
Other medical organizations have expressed opposition as well, contending that
these accommodations are, in effect, unleashing an underqualified group of
doctors on an unsuspecting public.
The preferential treatment that the Cuban doctors received was questioned:
While many Cuban exiles have passed the required test of other doctors, the fact
that one group of exiles is getting so much attention has raised concerns among
members of the medical establishment in Florida and beyond. (Kilborn, May 14,
Findings for Research Question 4
The fourth research question asked which group is said to have the opposite
qualities including uneducated, lazy, poor, poorly spoken, and socially unaccepted.
Haitians were shown with overwhelmingly negative and undesirable traits. The nation is
shown as poor and its people as well those in the Diaspora are framed as poor. One
article about a needy woman who had problems identified her as Haitian. It is important
to note that the reporter, while identifying this poor woman as Haitian also framed her as
hardworking. The fourth graph of the article read
Since coming to New York from Haiti in 1969, Marie, now a teacher's assistant at
a public school, had always worked. She reared four children on her own; they
were poor but happy. But last February after a brief marriage broke up, Marie and
her family were evicted. They began a nine-month odyssey through the city's
shelter system. (Herszenhorn, December 27, 1996)
Only one article framed Haitians as lazy, but the same articles showed Haitians as
childlike, greedy, criminal, and gullible. The story lead
Intoxicated by the promise of easy money, thousands of Haitians here and abroad
sold their cars, mortgaged their homes and emptied their savings accounts in
recent months to invest in cooperatives that promised astonishing monthly returns
of 10 percent.
The article continued
Mathematically, it should have self-destructed earlier," one banker said. "Drug
money definitely allowed them to last much longer." (Gonzalez, July 26, 2002)
Three articles showed Haitians as uneducated and ignorant. One article on AIDS
in the Caribbean contained numerous negative frames about Haitians, including the
poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. But the dominant frame was the ignorance of
As it has in their native country, AIDS has ravaged the bayetes, where
superstition, poverty and prejudice conspire against hope. The brother of one
AIDS patient recently told Sister Anne Lees, a nun who runs several health and
nutrition projects, that the man had died from a spell cast by a creditor.
Haitians were not only shown as ignorant, but as savages who could not control their
"It's very difficult to confront reality if you do not think this disease exists,"
Sister Anne said. "Even if you told someone they were H.I.V. positive, they
would not believe it. They would just go off and have sex with the first person
they saw." (Gonzalez, May 18, 2003)
Barbaric, criminal, untrustworthy, cunning, and delinquent are all socially
undesirable traits. Haitians were frequently shown with these frames and shown as
socially unaccepted. The numerous "boat" people making their way to the United States
were often shown as not human. They were framed as being packed into tiny boats
without agency, and were shown as burdens in three articles.
CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION
Portes (1995), one of the leading immigration scholars, in his study of children of
migrants asserted that there are circumstances in which assimilation does not lead to
economic progress and social acceptance, and that opposite may occur. He asserted that
not all immigrants are equal, as he explained with segmented assimilation. For example,
human capital immigrants who are already educated or skilled assimilate differently than
labor immigrants. Portes compared different groups, including Haitians and Cubans.
The older and better established Cuban community moved farther along the path
of institutional development, including the creation of a network of parochial and
private schools. Enrollment in these schools insulates Cuban-American children
from contact with downtrodden groups as well as from outside discrimination. ...
Very different is the situation of Haitians in Miami and Mexicans in San Diego.
Neither community possesses a well-developed ethnic economy that can generate
autonomous opportunities for its members. Haitians have clustered in an
impoverished neighborhood adjacent to Liberty City, the largest inner-city ghetto
in Miami. The Haitian community lacks a private school system and their
youth must attend public inner-city schools. There, initially well-mannered
Haitian American youths are ridiculed for their accent, their docility, and their
obedience of school staff. (Portes, 1995, 263-264)
In the case of Haitian Americans, families struggle with preventing downward
As the case of Haitian Americans in south Florida indicates, good intentions and
high aspirations are not enough when structural forces place individuals in
conditions of insurmountable disadvantage. (Portes, 1995, p. 275)
It is with Portes' observation in mind that we will precede with this conclusion.
Media scholars, including Entman, Hall and Hunt, have done extensive research
on how media portray different ethnic groups, including African-Americans and Latinos.
Immigration scholars, including Portes (1995) examined the role of immigrants in society
and how they adjust. This study focused on the media's role in portraying two salient
immigrant groups. This study supports the idea that the media still has further to go in
improving its coverage of diverse populations. The New York Times, considered one of
the elite newspapers, provided coverage that was not surprising in its overall negative
tones for both groups.
The findings in this study show The New York Times framed Cubans and Haitians
negatively. Haitians were portrayed negatively to a higher degree, with significantly few
frames present. While Cubans were framed negatively, the ratio of positive and negative
frames was almost one to one.
The first research question asked if Cubans and Haitians were framed negatively.
The findings were that they were indeed framed negatively, with both groups sharing
Character Weakness and Government Delinquency frames. The Poor Frame could be
expected for Haitians because of the nation's financial standing, although the extent was
enormous. The Other Frame that emerged supports the Otherness discourse that notes a
distinction between "us" and "them." Latham identified the traits of otherness in films.
"Together, they reveal how ordinary film ads could eroticize, vilify, and belittle people in
subtle ways that appealed to dominant social expectations, fears, and desires (Latham,
2002, p. 5).
The second research question asked if Cubans were portrayed more positively
than Haitians. The study found that Cubans were framed more positively than Haitians.
Taylor, Lee, and Stern's (1995) assertions that underrepresentation send subtle signals
about the lack of full acceptance in mainstream society can also be applied to the findings
of this study. Research findings for Questions 3 and 4 note that Cubans were shown to
have more socially acceptable frames than Haitians. The signals about Haitians were
characterized by the abundance of negative frames.
As Portes (1995) noted, different immigrant groups have different capital, which
shape how they assimilate and in turn how they are accepted in society. Societal
acceptance can be examined through media portrayals, as this study has done. Cubans
and Cuban Americans have a strong social network and established businesses, which
lend to political strength. Haitians and Haitian Americans do not have the same social
networks and businesses. Heterophily can refer to the differences in the way that the
reporters see themselves in terms of beliefs, values, education, cultural similarities, race,
and social status, and potentially impact how they cover Cubans and Haitians subjects.
The particularly negative framing of Haitians is heightened by their overtly different race
and social status to that of the majority of journalists.
While neither group completely fit the "core culture" or "core society," Cubans,
although they are a group that could be identified as racially mixed, are portrayed as
predominantly White. In the articles that were examined, few of the Cubans in the
articles used in this study, including Celia Cruz were Afro-Cuban, although they were not
identified as such. The whitening of Cuban identity in the media may lead to more social
acceptance. Cubans also speak Spanish and as shown in the data are portrayed as
successful and influential. While there are Cubans that belong to different classes, those
in the upper or middle class, based on their positions, were often used as sources or
subjects in this study. Huntington argued against the ethnic enclave that Cubans have
created in south Florida, calling it contempt of culture and the "Hispanization of Miami."
In the nativist view, Cuban-Americans who live in this enclave or are resistant to
assimilate are not truly American. Many Cubans and Cuban-Americans have spread out
throughout the country where perhaps they have less community support and must
assimilate faster rather than doing what has been labeled by Stepick (1998) and Portes
(1995) as "acculturation in reverse."
Haitians also have some traits that affect the probability of assimilation. The vast
majority of Haitians are Black. Unlike Cubans, Haitians speak a language that is even
less widespread, Haitian Creole. Because the language is native to only one country and
spoken in very few places in the United States, the demand for Haitians to learn English
is even greater. Haitians, in terms of attempting to learn the language would please
Huntington and others who support nativist ideals. Still, Haitians were portrayed as
belonging to the lower class, often placed in the Poor Frame. Haitians as well as Cubans
are predominantly Catholic, but the religious angle only appeared a few times in the
As stated above, there are factors that affect each group's probability of
assimilation and cultural change. Cubans, more than Haitians are able to assimilate
because they are shown to possess more of the traits of the "core culture." Haitians,
despite their language shift, are still Black and poor. Like Parks (1928) noted with the
Japanese case of assimilation, while class and language may be transcended, race is the
most obvious trait that cannot be overlooked when a group joins a news society. Those
groups or group members who do not or are not able to assimilate fully, are what Parks
define as marginal men, living on the margins of the mainstream society between two
cultures. They are also reflected as such in the media, as this study found. They are
identified as the "other" and their differences as similarities in relation to "core society"
are highlighted. Cubans' slightly more positive coverage is a reflection of the similarities
that they have to the "core culture." Backlash and negative frames appeared when they
deviated from the "core cultures' expectations. Haitians' overwhelmingly negative
coverage is a reflection of their obvious and irreconcilable differences and societal
Other ideas of culture can be examined with the findings of this study. One is the
notion of the United States as a "melting pot." This supports the ideas that both cultures
are changed as a result of interaction. Cubans and Haitians would become more
American as American society because a little more Cuban or Haitians. Another idea is
that the receiving country, the United States in this instance, would embrace different
cultures and promote a multicultural society. Multiculturalism promotes interaction
between different people, with the each person maintaining their individuality and
identity. Multiculturalism has gained popularity, as can be seen at universities who have
turned their attention toward creating campuses that embrace multiculturalism. For either
of these ideas to come to fruition, mainstream society must be accepting of the groups
with which they interact. Taylor, Lee, and Stern's (1995) assertions that
underrepresentation sends subtle signals about the lack of full acceptance in mainstream
society is applicable to the findings of this study.
Implications of This Study
This study adds to the scholarly mass communication literature by reinforcing the
significance of framing theory and focusing on two ethnic and immigrant groups in
understanding the mass media and how they shape public opinion. We live in a world of
constant change and with the extreme rate that communication technology is advancing,
contact with people from different regions occurs instantaneously. Messages about
society, including social acceptability and identity formation are transferred, usually from
North to South. Journalists play a special role in public opinion formation and in helping
individuals shape the way they see the world. Perhaps, journalists can take that role with
a stronger sense of responsibility. Journalists must not only react to what happens in
society, specifically the change in the people who live in it, but must be leaders in
helping people understand each other. This understanding begins with accurate portrayals
of all groups. Many scholars have asserted that underrepresentation and
misrepresentation of minority groups lead to misunderstandings by the general public
about the world they live in.
As stated in the introduction, the projected change in the U.S. population is not
negotiable. While the increase in the number of minorities has fueled the nativist rhetoric,
as argued by Huntington, it is a reality that American society must prepare for. The
United States' immigration policy has been in the news, especially since September 11.
Public figures including CNN commentator Lou Dobbs have called for protecting U.S.
borders and keeping jobs within the borders. Mexicans have been the recent focus of
border control discussions. Immigration studies have often associated Mexicans and
Haitians in terms of the similarities in their demographics, while Cubans have been
associated with different Asian groups, such as the Vietnamese. Inadequate portrayals
further damage members of the group as well as society by promoting a lack of
acceptance. Negative portrayals could also have an impact on decision-makers,
specifically those in immigration policy. This can be inferred by evaluating the strength
of the preferential status of Cuban immigrants who in this study were found to have a
more positive portrayal versus the immigration policy toward Haitians who were
portrayed more negatively.
The findings of this study support Entman's problem-solution approach to
framing, which asserts that frames define problems, diagnose causes, make moral
judgments and \/.'''\et remedies. This is best seen in immigration articles that involve
both groups. In the Cuban case, illegal immigration to the United States is identified as a
problem, especially as a source of strain on South Florida's resources. Fidel Castro's
government and political restrictions were identified as the cause of Cuban immigration
to the United States. The moral judgments made were mostly toward Castro. Political and
economic instability are often identified as the source of Haitian immigration to south
Florida. Like Cubans, this migration occurs in spurts. In this case of Haitians, remedies
are not suggested because the situation in Haiti is framed as hopeless.
The findings of this study also support studies that found portrayals of minorities
to be negative (Entman & Rojecki, 2000; Hunt, 1997; Merskin, 1998). These minorities,
Haitians more that Cubans according to the findings, are dehumanized. They are shown
as a mass, without names, without histories, without families, without identity. Haitians,
more so than Cubans, are framed as commodities, with governments debating over who
is allowed to travel where. The individual's free will is portrayed as non-existent; this
again is truer for Haitians than Cubans. The portrayals put these minorities in a subclass.
When these individuals are identified by their ethnicity, while other individuals are
validated simply with a name, Cubans and Haitians, along with other ethnic group
members, are set apart from everyone who is considered "normal" in this society. This
alienation, as scholars have found, have an impact on members of the minority groups.
Scholars, including Tajfel (1982) and Gergen (1985) have theorized that the way
minorities are portrayed in various media inflicts what Gergen terms "dignitary harm,"
by virtue of the use of demeaning stereotypes, repetitive, and unrepresentative images
which help, in part, to shape minority group social identities (Fischoff, Franco, Gram,
Hernandez, & Parker, 2001).
The negative portrayals of minorities and ethnic groups, specifically the two that
were examined in this study, have proliferated across media and have become rather
obvious. By reading a newspaper or watching television news one can make inferences.
Writers and editors who may have the best intentions are reinforcing stereotypes in
headlines and at the top of the stories. On February 26, CNN.com's headline about
Haitians read "Boat people fleeing Haitian crisis." One February Orlando Sentinel article
lead with "They call them dirty Haitians." Haitians, joined by Cubans, protested the
video game "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" that portrayed Haitians, Cubans, and
Columbians as drug lords and gang members in 2003. At one level in the game, a
character says: "I hate these Haitians" and "I'm gonna kill me a Haitian" (Rhor, 2003).
The hit movie "BadBoys 2 featured actors from Martinique who portrayed Haitian
gang members with dreadlocks and thick, comedic accents. With all these examples and
the lack of personal interaction with Haitians, as Entman and Rojecki (2000) noted
people are left with only the mediated images to catalog people.
Journalists are on the frontline when it comes to creating mediated messages. In
order to address inadequate portrayals of various groups, it is necessary to look at how
journalists are trained. Journalism programs and organizations should be proactive in
educating journalists about mass communication theory, including framing and media
effects theories. An awareness of mass communication theory will enable journalists to
look at their work and practices critically. Education in diversity issues and ethics must
also play a larger role. This will better equip journalists to provide more complex
representations of minorities. In addition, the newsroom must also be more reflective of
the population. Numerous organizations such as Freedom Forum have been proactive in
recruiting and training minority journalists. Still, minorities are leaving the newsroom.
News organizations must make an effort to retain these individuals.
Limitations of This Study
One potential limitation of this study is that despite the time frame, only a limited
number of articles were available. One reason for this is the lack of presence of both
groups in everyday news. The coverage of Cubans and Haitians was sporadic and
surrounded major events such as the Elian Gonzalez case and the Louima Abner case that
caught this nation's attention. Also, another sampling method could have potentially
yielded in more articles. LexisNexis was very helpful in retrieving articles, but to ensure
that all possible articles were accounted for hard copies of the New York Times for the 11
year period would have to be retrieved. This was not feasible for this research.
Suggestions for Future Research
Comparing Cubans and Haitians was extremely helpful. Soruco (1996) did a
study of Cuban Americans in South Florida and a similar study of Haitians would be
complementary. A large number of the articles originated from Miami and surrounding
municipalities. This study did not examine the Miami Herald or Sun-Sentinel because it
sought to investigate the questions on a national level. It is estimated that frames would
be even more apparent in either of these newspapers because of the political situation and
access to members of those communities. The Miami Herald, more than the Sun-Sentinel,
would be interesting to study because of the newspaper's long history in the area and its
staff demographics. As of the summer of 2003, the Miami Herald employed only one
full-time Haitian reporter, and a few more Cuban reporters. Perhaps a study comparing
the New York Times to the Miami Herald could compare coverage of either group and
would provide rich data.
Other newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globes, would also
be interesting to study. It would be possible to study regional differences, especially in
areas that have other immigrant groups that are dominant. For example, the Los Angeles
Times serves a population with a large number of Mexicans and Asians. How does the
population makeup affect coverage? Ethnic media also provides another research
possibility, examining how members of the ethnic groups portray themselves and
comparing that to the how the mainstream media portray them.
While this study examined 11 years of coverage, a wider time frame would
provide an even clearer picture. It is suggested that coverage since the 1950s would show
how portrayals have evolved. Television coverage would be another suggestion for future
research. In television coverage the public not only hears the story, but they are also
given images with which to associate the groups or topics represented. Image analysis
from news print of each group would achieve similar goals. There were numerous images
used with the articles, if analyzed that alone could tell a story.
Looking at the data critically, class and race issues emerged and were discussed.
Gender issues were also present, specifically the shortage of women's voices in the
articles. This is especially true for the coverage of Haitians, where only 15 women were
used as subjects or sources. A closer look at gender issues in the coverage of immigrant
groups, Haitians, Cubans, and Mexicans, would add a great deal of depth to the body of
mass communication literature. This is especially important because women in the
United States have also been represented disproportionately in the U.S. media and this
research would indicate whether that representation is transferred to women in minority
groups. I would hypothesis that women of other ethnic and minority groups would be
represented even less accurately by the media than those who resemble the "core culture"
A final suggestion would be to compare U.S. news sources to those in other
countries such as France, Canada, and England to see if the frames that emerged in this
study are shared across borders. Along the lines of international coverage, a study
looking at how Cuban newspapers cover Haitians versus how Haitian newspapers cover
Cubans would provide additional insight. Ethnocentrism applies to other cultures.
Looking at coverage of media outside of the United States will reveal how ethnocentrism
manifests itself abroad.
1. Headlines and kickers (small headlines over the main headlines).
3. Lead (the beginning of news stories).
4. Selection of sources or affiliations.
5. Selection of Quotes.
9. Concluding statements or paragraphs of articles.
10. Topic of Story:
11. List possible frames, framing techniques (can directly on story)
Note how or if the article frames any or all members of the group by the following
characteristics. Also list key words that indicate this.
Read the item carefully several times. Paragraph by paragraph examine for the presence
of key words and phrases, quotes, loaded words and phrases, tone symbols, figurative
language, themes, visual images, quotation marks (which can be used to delegitimize),
figures of speech to present or maintain particular themes and sources used and excluded,
focus on events rather than issues (ignoring goals and missions and focusing on surface
If focus is on issue, list what issues are brought up (medical, political, gender-related,
etc.). Note the dominant viewpoint. Note any secondary viewpoints. Indicate the frame
that each quote is intended to advance or reinforce. Highlight examples of text from the
item that illustrate the framing techniques that are used in the story.
Table B-1. Cuba: Positive frames
Heroic or courageous
Table B-2. Cuba: Negative frames
Abuse of power (in U.S.)
Cuba vs. Haiti
Human rights violators
Table B-3. Haiti: Positive frames
Table B-4. Haiti: Negative frames
lack of social responsibility
"Poorest country in hemisphere"
Unable to self govern
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Manoucheka Celeste was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti and moved to the United
States in 1988. She has lived in Kissimmee and Altamonte Springs, Florida, and
graduated from Lake Brantley High School. She received a Bachelor of Science in
Journalism degree in 2003 from the University of Florida, where she was inducted into
the Hall of Fame. Manoucheka has interned at newspapers across Florida including the
Florida Times-Union, Ocala Star-Banner, and the Miami Herald. Manoucheka is also a
Chips Quinn Journalism Scholar.
Manoucheka enjoys traveling. She studied abroad in The Netherlands in 2001 and
was a marketing and public relations intern for Air Serv International in Uganda through
the Coca-Cola World Citizenship Program in 2004.