A Discourse Analysis of Syrian Refugee Representations in Canadian News Media

By: Pamela Aimee Rigor  

This study explores the media representation of Syrian refugees and the media discourse surrounding their resettlement in Vancouver, Canada. It examines news articles in local community and major Vancouver newspapers published from September 2015 to October 2017. Using a combination of content and discourse analysis, it aims to uncover how these newspapers covered the arrival and resettlement of Syrian refugees in the country. The articles were analyzed and sorted into themes using the qualitative data analysis software, Nvivo 12. Based on the findings, the media discourse of Canada being a humanitarian country, as well as the idea of Syrian refugees having to publicly announce how grateful they are, is still present in the community newspapers. This seems to be done to counter the hateful narratives of citizens who might view them as abusing help and services provided by the community and government. However, compared to major newspapers, these community newspapers are very inclusive of refugee voices. Many articles interview Syrian refugees to share their personal stories of plight, survival, and starting a “new life” in Canada. These community newspapers, even though their representations are far from perfect, do address some aspects of the refugee resettlement issue and respond to their community’s needs. This study promotes awareness of how these individuals are represented in the media so we can, in turn, be aware the stereotypes present and the ideologies being perpetuated, and its implications on refugee laws and public response to the issue.

Mass Media, Representation, Power, Discourse Analysis, Ideologies, Identities, Multiculturalism, Journalism
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Pamela Aimee Rigor

MA Student, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Canada
-, Canada