Canadian journalism and its fight against race, racism and diversity

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Media concentration, the proliferation of fake news and colonialism have all distorted how journalists cover racism, experts say. Post-Canadian journalism and its fight against race, racism and diversity appeared first on New Canadian Media.

The nature of our globalized world, massive media monopolization and deep-rooted colonialist practices have all contributed to the systemic exclusion of diverse voices from Canadian newsrooms, which in turn has amplified journalistic biases and the way which they report racism, according to a recent panel of industry experts discussing “Best Practices for Reporting Racism”.

The discussion, organized by Canadian New Media on April 8, featured speakers from diverse ethnic backgrounds to discuss how journalists’ biases have impacted the way they report on racism.

The panel tapped into the ongoing discussion and industry-wide assessment that has occurred in the wake of growing public criticism of the lack of diversity in Canadian journalism and how this affects communities. marginalized that journalists cover.

Their discussion was framed by last year’s National NewsMedia Council (NNC) report which suggested best practices and tips for reporting the systemic racism that pervades Canadian society. Among some of the more prescient questions “needing careful thought” raised in this report were: “how to include more diverse voices in reporting, the use of appropriate language, and how to incorporate important historical context and nuance into stories. reports”.

“We are analyzing how this report could be improved,” Brent Jolly, NNC CEO and President of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), said at the event. “Because things change.”

Media owners and media workers

Since 1983, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations has been engaged in education, training and public assistance to victims of racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination. This is why, for Fo Niemi, its director, talking about racism and prejudice within the media amounts to talking about the differences between those who clean the media and those who work in the news-gathering media, i.e. journalists.

For him, the “media concentration” and the “ideological line” of media owners have a direct impact on the way journalists cover racism. Depending on how media owners “conduct journalism or news reporting”, this could either create “more division, increase prejudice (and) racism”, or create more “backlash and disinformation”.

With the increased connectivity and globalization made possible by the Internet, the “Global Information Network”, as he called it, has become even more difficult to control and monitor.

“We don’t know what is fake news and what isn’t,” he said. “How to differentiate information that meets the basic standards of journalism from others? »

Donald Trump’s former administration in the United States, which used divisive rhetoric that polarized Americans, Niemi said, only increased and aggravated the level and scope of misinformation with which journalists – and by extension the public – must cope.

Therefore, he added, journalists today must practice their profession on high alert against what he calls “global influences”, referring to the increasing amount of manipulation of information and disinformation disseminated by foreign governments.

“When we talk about journalism, we have to think about these global influences,” he said. “How to ensure that news information can be truly independent, objective, with high standards and accuracy.”

The police should not always be the main source

For his part, Jolly questioned the media’s overreliance on police press releases as the primary source of information when writing a crime-related story.

He also criticized the practice of publishing the names of suspects without pursuing cases, which he said could affect them in the future, even if the charges are dismissed or they are found not guilty.

“We know that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are particularly more likely to be stopped by police,” he said.

“Best practice is that if you report, you must complete the story.”

The 2021 NNC report suggests that journalists should “avoid a typical story structure that puts the police or other authoritative voices at the top and controls the narrative while reducing community or BIPOC voices to” color “and to the reaction”.

The document also calls for “more inclusive journalism that includes diverse voices in the daily news or as experts, and presents black, indigenous and otherwise ‘other’ communities in a wider range of stories and perspectives” .

Jolly further called on journalists to think about the effects of overvaluing the police as the “supreme resource” and not to investigate beyond what police press releases say or the charges laid.

Decolonize the media

Kelsie Kilawna, Syilx and Secwepemc storyteller and culture editor at IndigiNewsan Indigenous news platform, said journalists covering Indigenous stories need to learn about the history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, the impact of residential schools and the endemic poverty that plagues many Indigenous communities.

Through its Decolonizing the Media workshop—which has been delivered inside and outside Indigenous communities and has trained approximately 1,200 people so far—Kilawna provides culturally-based and grounded editorial support in the Indigenous worldview.

The workshop blends cultural knowledge with trauma-informed media practices and ethics. Each training cohort implements a protocol to create space to talk about how to treat or support each other in the newsroom or workplace.

“We gave them real tools and practical advice on how to decolonize the media, how to decolonize their minds, how to engage communities, reciprocity; how to create a good space for storytelling,” said Kilawna.

According to her, it is possible to decolonize the media because the art of storytelling is not inherited from colonialism but is innate to the indigenous tradition.

“You cannot decolonize what is inherited from colonialism,” she explained. “Storytelling is not a colonial heritage; it is an indigenous heritage, so it is possible to decolonize the media.

Defining diversity

But while this is possible, panelists agreed that a consensus on the definition of “race” and “racism” is not only necessary but lacking, which hampered this possibility.

“One of the things I find harder for people in Canada when they talk about racism is struggling with the word ‘race.’ There is a constant and persistent confusion between ‘race’ and ‘ethnic’ or ‘ethnicity’,” Niemi said, adding as a solution the need for a “practical, operational and critical analysis of what we mean by ‘race’. ”

He also cautioned against using ‘diversity’ – ‘because it can mean everything, but it can’t mean anything’, he said, referring to the many broad and complex nuances that come with a term as diffuse but loaded. For this reason, he suggests using more specific terms like “class diversity” and “age diversity” instead.

“We have to be very careful when we talk about diversity as systemic discrimination,” he said in his closing remarks. “We need to use the intersectional lens to make sure we leave no one behind.”

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Post-Canadian journalism and its fight against race, racism and diversity appeared first on Canadian new media.

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