Report Released on Affirmative Action in Public Discourse

A new report analyzes the impact media has in framing the current affirmative action debates and generally concludes that media portrayals are often biased and misinformed. The report was released by The Opportunity Agenda and is entitled “Affirmative Action in the Public Discourse: Media Content and Opinion Analysis.”

Among other findings, the report shows “that the media has skillfully crafted affirmative action messages that imply these programs are no longer useful,” “that media pieces consistently fail to acknowledge the consequences and negative effects a ban on affirmative action would have on people of color,” and that “current media framing makes a ban on affirmative action seem not only inconsequential, but inevitable.” Public opinion as measured by various sources indicates that though many Americans are ambivalent about affirmative action, very few believe such programs should be discontinued at this point.

In the November elections, statutes that would effectively ban affirmative action programs to affirmatively counter discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and ethnicity will be on the ballot in Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska. Anti-affirmative action measures were proposed but will not be on the ballot in Oklahoma and Missouri. The recommendations of the report aim to “create a big enough groundswell of opposition to defeat the initiatives” by showing that “discrimination still exists,” “affirmative action policies are not divisive,” and that “policies that take account of race are still necessary.” Unfortunately, the report focuses mostly on issues of race. If passed, these state bans will also impact women negatively, particularly in relation to public education, public employment, and public contracting.


The Opportunity Agenda E-Mail 8/15/08; Affirmative Action in the Public Discourse: Media Content and Opinion Analysis; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/30/08; AZ Secretary of State; CO Secretary of State; NE Secretary of State

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