In the majority of cases, diversity in the news appears in connection/relation to cultural diversity and multiculturalism. It most often has a positive connotation and is presented as something that is natural or even desirable. But in the recent years, especially after the 9/11 and other terrorist attacks around the world, the media have been giving more coverage to the opponents of cultural diversity and multiculturalism including those who claim that the policy of multicultural cohesion was a mistake and that multiculturalism has failed.
Multiculturalism and cultural diversity are two closely related but not quite the same concepts. Multiculturalism refers to cohabitation of two or multiple ethnic/national groups which either has historical roots like in Canada for example or is a result of immigration in the post-war period. Cultural diversity, on the other hand, can refer to the diversity of ethnic/national groups in a particular region, state or the world as a whole. Unlike multiculturalism which is more concerned with the effects of maintaining diversity and its benefits/consequences for a multicultural society, cultural diversity views the variety of human culture as an equivalent to biodiversity, that is something that is essential for the humankind.
Multiculturalism is often described as a ‘salad bowl’ consisting of different cultures and ethnic/national groups which represent different ‘ingredients’. They are all mixed together, forming a harmonious whole with each retaining its tradition, heritage and other things that make it unique. In contrast, ‘melting pot’ foresees mixing of different societies/cultures into a more cohesive and homogeneous society. This model was (and still is) used by many countries around the world, with the United States being one of the best examples. The UK and the rest of Europe, on the other hand, have largely adopted the policy of multiculturalism or ‘salad bowl’.
The ‘salad bowl’ was supported by both policymakers and the public for decades. This, however, changed by the turn of the millennium for several reasons, most notably the terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe. A change can also be observed in media presentation of multiculturalism; in addition to giving more coverage to the opponents of multicultural policies, the media also began paying more attention to things such as European citizens joining the terrorist groups in the Middle East, honour killings, Sharia law implementation in Western countries, the question of niqab, etc. In other words, the media no longer present multiculturalism from positive perspective exclusively.
When it comes to ‘other diversities’ such as gender, age, physical abilities, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status, the media are putting a lot of effort to avoid negative connotation. In many cases, they are also openly supporting individuals and groups who are different by identifying features with an aim to help them fulfil their rights, get a better access to opportunities and be accepted by their communities as full members with both rights and responsibilities.