Un/Covering the North: News, Media, and Aboriginal People


222 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0706-7
DDC 302.23'09719





Reviewed by Kerry Abel

Kerry Abel is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History, co-editor of Aboriginal Resource Use in Canada: Historical and Legal Aspects, and co-editor of Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History.


When Nunavut was born on April 1, 1999, the event attracted surprisingly
little attention in the southern media. The author of this study of the
media coverage of Aboriginal northerners in both the North and South
takes southern journalists to task for their ignorance of Aboriginal
peoples and issues. However, it could be argued that journalists lack an
in-depth knowledge of all the subjects on which they report; they are
generalists because the system demands it. Media coverage tends to focus
on limited groups of people (like politicians) everywhere, not just in
the North.

In her content analysis of three newspapers, Alia draws broad
conclusions based on very little evidence. For example, on the basis of
20 articles carried by The Globe and Mail between 1991 and 1992, she
concludes that all southern media coverage “perpetuates colonial
thinking about northern issues” and prevents readers from
comprehending “the fundamental questions most important to the
North.” One might ask whether The Globe and Mail is really
representative of southern media and whether this failure to address
fundamental issues is not, in fact, a failure of media news coverage as
a whole.

Despite its limitations, Alia’s book will be of interest to those who
wish to learn more about northern Native use of mass media.


Alia, Valerie., “Un/Covering the North: News, Media, and Aboriginal People,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/362.