In South Africa, racism and xenophobia, widely recognised as human rights violations, are particularly pertinent. A long history of institutionalised racism, most recently apartheid, saw the classification, segregation and discrimination of people along racial lines. It has shaped perceptions, attitudes, identities, and relationships, and left a legacy of inequality. In May 2008, xenophobia came starkly to the public’s attention, in the form of violence targeted at perceived “foreigners”, making local, national and international headlines. However, negative and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour towards migrants, or xenophobia, have long been documented as widespread and problematic in South Africa. Black immigrants in particular are victims of xenophobic attitudes and treatment.

For many South Africans, community and small commercial media are not only important sources of information for communities about issues affecting them, which may include racism and xenophobia, but also about “groups” of people that they may not come into contact with. While research has helped establish how the national and provincial media cover issues of race, racism, migrants and xenophobia, little information is available about coverage by community and small commercial media. To address this need, Media Monitoring Africa conducted research into how issues of race, ethnicity, migrants, racism and xenophobia are represented in community and small commercial newspapers.

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