COVID-19: Ethnic Media Lessons from 2020 for an Inclusive Recovery

Useful and informative summary and report:

Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services presents its year long research into ethnic media coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the form of five articles. These articles were published or excerpted by New Canadian Media as a result of support from Canadian Heritage through its Digital Citizen Contribution Program. We would like to thank New Canadian Media for giving us the opportunity to write these pieces.

The white paper provides an overview of the lessons learned in 2020 from engaging with diverse communities in the fight against the COVID-19, which may useful in 2021 as the pandemic continues. In order to capture coverage needed to produce this white paper, we spent a year regularly monitoring over 800 ethnic media outlets across Canada in 30+ language groups.

The 30+ language groups/communities whose ethnic media we tracked include Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Caribbean, Chinese (incl. Cantonese & Mandarin), Farsi, Filipino, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Muslim, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, South Asian, Spanish, Sri Lankan, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The ethnic media outlets we tracked spanned the four mediums of print, web, radio and TV and were mostly based in the metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. These urban centres attract the most immigrants each year, thus resulting in a concentration of ethnic media outlets in Canada’s most populated cities.

The actionable intelligence gained as a result of our ethnic media research provides insight into the impact of COVID-19 on newcomers and racialized communities, who have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. Out of the 1,130 translated ethnic media story summaries we produced in 2020 for this report, 169 were focused on mental health, 193 on the economic impact of COVID-19, 350 on immigration and 118 on the culture vs. economy debate as a cause of the prevalence of COVID-19.

 Our white paper is divided into five pieces, four written by MIREMS Editor-in-Chief Silke Reichrath and one by MIREMS President Andres Machalski. The following are brief abstracts:

 1) Media Representation of Newcomer Communities with High COVID-19 Rates

This channel is extremely influential in the fight against social media disinformation among newcomers. It shows these outlets fulfill a very real need to translate government and expert messaging into culturally and linguistically relevant formats and in adding information from the grassroots. This channel is extremely influential in the fight against social media disinformation among newcomers 

2) Mental Health and Domestic Violence in the Ethnic Media

Stigma around mental health challenges is still widespread in newcomer communities and many newcomers are not aware of available supports through community organizations and settlement service providers, especially now that programs have moved online. In this context, ethnic media have a significant role to play in raising awareness around mental health issues, the impacts of the pandemic on different segments of the population, and the services available to them.

3) Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Immigration Communities

The ethnic media have fulfilled a valuable role during the pandemic in keeping their audiences informed about the latest public health guidelines regarding business openings and closures, and about benefits and aid programs available from the three levels of government. These outlets have raised awareness in general about how the pandemic is affecting the national and local economy, have featured charitable initiatives by the community, and have encouraged community members to support local businesses by buying local, particularly from smaller businesses. Recovery is only a matter of time, and ethnic media can be expected to do their share in reflecting community concerns and advocating for equity in the rebuilding process.

 Ethnic media have been instrumental in highlighting community initiatives to counteract the pandemic spread and in giving voice to grassroots opinions. It shows these outlets fulfill a very real need to translate government and expert messaging into culturally and linguistically relevant formats and in adding information from the grassroots.

  4) COVID-19 Impact on Immigration – Analysis

Over the pandemic year of 2020, the ethnic media has been instrumental in reporting on and clarifying government policy, processes and programs. Ethnic media coverage focused on the impact of COVID on immigration levels, border closures and travel restrictions, visa extensions for temporary residents stranded in Canada, work permit regulations, farm worker rights and COVID safety protocols, COVID-related accommodations for international students, modifications to the Express Entry draws, and the guardian angel program for front-line care providers. The ethnic media also documented the unique challenges different migrant constituencies face, reflecting the lived experiences of the various newcomer communities.

5) The Role of Ethnic Media in the War Against Pandemic, Pandemonium, Poverty and Panic

The ethnic media undeniably exists and is part of the communications fabric of our society, but it is one that is often ignored, despite its key positioning as a conduit to and from diverse communities. These outlets are essential to the central position diverse communications will play in restoring the social cohesion needed to overcome not only the COVID-19 virus, but its fall out. Canadian corporate and government leaders need to recognize the ethnic media as a key asset in the fight against COVID-19, which is at the same time a fight against social disruption, poverty, and mental anguish.

Source: http://www.mirems.com/uploads/8/1/4/2/8142628/covid-19_-ethnic_media_lessons_from_2020-_white_paper.pdf

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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