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One America - Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee on the Media

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One America

Program: Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee on the Media, Chicago, IL
Contact(s): Cheryl Zaleski, Project Manager: (312) 456-7745
Purpose: To serve as a resource for all of the Chicago metropolitan area's print and electronic media on issues of race, ethnicity and religion, and to help citizens monitor the media to ensure fair and accurate coverage of all of the Chicago area's minority communities

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1992, after the printing of an article by The Chicago Sun-Times that some believed made unfavorable parallels between the behavior of raccoons with that of certain minority communities, the Human Relations Foundation of Chicago and The Chicago Sun-Times convened a group of individuals representing the racial, ethnic and religious makeup of Chicago to form the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee of the Sun-Times. Since March 1995, the responsibility of developing the means for sustained monitoring of the media in Chicago has been transferred to the Human Relations Foundation, therefore the name of the advisory committee changed to the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee on the Media (MCAC). The foundation's goal was to go beyond merely reacting to derogatory and inaccurate articles and news programs, but instead take a proactive stance in creating accurate media portrayals. For this reason, MCAC not only monitors media, but also works to establish mutually beneficial relationships between the major media outlets and the changing ethnic and religious communities of Chicago that are reflected in MCAC membership.

Program Operations

MCAC holds regular meetings between its members and the editors and general managers of the area's newspapers and television stations. At these meetings, participants discuss not only such things as story assignments and hiring policies, but also how MCAC can be used as a resource by providing broadcast or print media organizations with minority contact names in various fields of expertise, information on events happening in such communities, and ways of collaborating on special projects. Another way MCAC stays active is through the number of reports it commissions from journalism schools, and the subsequent forum that always follows the release of such reports.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

In 1997, MCAC released a series of reports for a "Media and Public Policy" series. In the spring of 1998, MCAC plans to release a report on local television news coverage of Chicago's ethnic and racial communities. In addition, MCAC is also planning to establish community organization-based media monitoring groups. These groups will agree to monitor local television news programs and newspapers for a determined length of time, after which town-hall forums or panel discussions will be held. During such forums, media executives will be available to listen to feedback from the community and to address any concerns about coverage or policies.

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