Title: Tracing Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action through Newspaper Content Analysis Authors: Allison Matthews and Philip Cohen Affiliation Allison Matthews (Howard University), Philip Cohen (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) The constitutionality of affirmative action programs to remedy past discrimination against minorities and women has been a debated topic, with attitudes ranging from full support to complete opposition. In order to understand the attitudes of critics in the White and black community toward affirmative action in education and employment, I conducted a content analysis on newspapers with dates ranging from 1978 to 2005. The content analysis included The New York Times, The Washington Post, and several local newspapers targeted toward a Black audience. I used several pro and con categories to measure attitudes for and against affirmative action programs in the newspaper articles, ranging from advocacy for affirmative action because it fights discrimination and segregation to objection for such programs because they are unfair and undermine the merit/quality of the institution. This article shows that the majority of White and Black critics were in favor of affirmative action, but for different reasons. Editorialists from The New York Times and The Washington Post who endorsed affirmative action programs said they provided all people with equal opportunity, while those who opposed it said they presented unfair preferential treatment to "unqualified" individuals or amounted to quota systems. Alternately, writers from the local Black newspapers supported affirmative action when it worked to remedy past and present discrimination, but opposed it when they saw it as ineffective in helping the entire Black community or promoting tolerance and understanding of different races and cultures.
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