Macpherson: Quebec’s Fox News, only bigger

Of note, and the consequent implications:

For their shrill populism, the Québecor media have been called Quebec’s Fox News. But in terms of their influence on this province’s politics, they’re much bigger than that.

Last weekend, in the annual Quebec journalism awards, Québecor’s newspapers, television channels and digital media were shut out.

But its flagship daily Le Journal de Montréal boasted of survey results suggesting that on all platforms, the three Québecor dailies were read at least once a week by more than half of Quebecers over the age of 14.

And Québecor’s TVA network bragged that its newscasts and LCN all-news channel led the television ratings in their respective categories.

This market domination by the Québecor media, and their resulting influence on public opinion, help explain poll results published this week suggesting that Quebec is the only province where a majority supports legislation like Bill 21.

The Legault government’s proposed anti-hijab-and-kippah-and-turban bill is supposed to settle, after more than a decade, the issue of accommodating minority religions. As the Bouchard-Taylor provincial commission on the subject reported in 2008, that issue was largely created by sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting by Québecor. And it’s mainly Québecor that has kept the issue alive.

In December 2017, TVA reported that a Montreal mosque had female construction workers removed from a work site outside during Friday prayers. The report was quickly debunked, but it wasn’t until a year later that TVA grudgingly admitted it was false and apologized.

Instead of editorials, Québecor’s dailies have columnists who circulate among its “convergent” platforms defending the supremacy of what one of them, Mathieu Bock-Côté, calls Quebec’s “historic French-speaking majority” — that is, ethnic French-Canadians — against the province’s minorities and other enemies of the true people.

Last January, another Le Journal columnist, Denise Bombardier, called minorities who complain of their treatment in the province “enemies … of French-speaking Quebec.” And she issued a call to “extinguish these hotbeds of intolerance,” even though she acknowledged it might be used by the “hotheaded and violently prejudiced.”

Le Journal’s columnists have clout. The non-binding 2017 National Assembly motion against the public use of English, in the form of the bilingual “bonjour-hi” greeting in businesses, resulted from a campaign spearheaded by one of them, Sophie Durocher.

Another, Richard Martineau, is obsessed with “Islamism” and has been accused of Islamophobia, which he denies.

In 2017, TVA’s rival Radio-Canada reported that in the previous 10 years, Martineau had written about 700 columns directly or indirectly concerning Islam.

A UQAM sociologist, Rachad Antonius, told Radio-Canada he had concluded from a study of Le Journal’s news coverage and columns on Islam that their cumulative effect fostered distrust of Muslims.

But if “Islamists” are a Martineau dog whistle, they may not be his only one. A cheerleader for Bill 21, he predicted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come under pressure to challenge the legislation from “followers of multiculturalism who live in Hampstead or Côte-Saint-Luc,” Montreal suburbs widely identified with their Jewish residents.

Québecor’s domination of the marketplace puts pressure on other media to follow its lead, in both news coverage and opinion. And its position may get even stronger, as its competitors get weaker.

The same day that Le Journal boasted of its readership, its main competitor, La Presse, published another plea for reader donations.

From 250,000 paying subscribers when it was still charging for its journalism, the number of its financial supporters willing to donate money to keep reading La Presse has shrunk to a total of 23,500 donors for the past four months.

This was after Le Journal reported last week that La Presse and another of Québecor’s competitor, Quebec City’s daily Le Soleil, are in serious financial trouble, and have asked the Legault government for help.

It said the government is “particularly pessimistic” about the future of Capitales Médias, which owns Le Soleil and five small regional dailies. And it said that, despite La Presse’s campaign to raise $5 million in donations, it could be broke within a year.

Source: Macpherson: Quebec’s Fox News, only bigger

Migrants and the media: what shapes the narratives on immigration in different countries – The Conversation

Interesting comparisons:

If you want to spoil a movie for yourself, wait for a nice dramatic moment and then imagine what it was like to shoot it: the cameras, sound and lighting crews all around; the portable toilets round the back; the half-finished bowl of crisps on the catering table. If a film is to succeed, it needs us to suspend our disbelief and not think about the process.

But when we consume news media, we need to do the opposite – and think carefully about how and why these products were made. When it comes to reporting on polarising and contentious issues such as migration, what happens behind the scenes in media organisations can affect not only how we think about the issue, but even policy itself.

Our team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Budapest Business School and the European Journalism Centre based at Maastricht in the Netherlands, has been working to turn the camera around on news production in Europe. Our objective was to understand why different themes and narratives about migration have taken hold in different countries – and what factors contributed to the people creating these stories operating so differently.

We interviewed more than 200 journalists and key media sources (such as government migration spokespeople, NGOs and think tanks) in nine EU countries, looking at their personal reasons for working the way they did and the institutional, social and political norms that shaped their outputs.

For example – compare this Swedish newspaper reporter who is very positive about the role of journalism: “I enjoy great respect. People listen to what I say and want to hear my opinion”, with this UK newspaper journalist: “Even my own friends hate the fact that I work here and think I’m a disgrace, but I’ve just learned to ignore it and I just get on with my work.”

The same two journalists articulate very different ways of reporting migration. The Swedish journalist describes their approach to reporting on non-EU migrants who are not fleeing persecution or seeking asylum:

Globalisation is a positive force. We rarely write something negative. Labour force migration is positive.

Contrast with this the UK journalist’s explanation of how they would use the term “migrant”, in general:

To be brutally honest, it’s more likely to be people who are a burden on society than those who are a benefit to society, because there is more newsworthiness in a foreign criminal or a teenager who’s being looked after by the council than, say, a brilliant academic who’s come here to further their career … so from our perspective it’s more newsworthy if people are abusing the system or exploiting loopholes or abusing the hospitality being extended to them by British society … because that triggers a reaction in readers.

Both reporters work for newspapers and both cover the issue of migration, but they describe very differently both the place they occupy in society, and the subject they report on.

Matter of perception

Reporting is a fundamentally human process – ideas, data, and anecdotes all pass through reporters, whose perceptions of the world, areas of interest and biases are all affected by various national, social, institutional and political factors. Some are obvious and affect their immediate working experience – such as what they imagine their proprietor or editor might want to read or see. Others are more abstract – such as their sense of responsibility to help people, or to “tell it like it is, warts and all”. This can have a big impact on the reporting of a sensitive issue such as immigration.

These sometimes competing pressures affect everything from what a reporter perceives will actually constitute a valid story, to the words they will use to tell that story. For example, here is a Hungarian broadcast journalist talking about the importance of terminology to the immigration debate:

We prefer to use the term ‘refugee’, as the word ‘migrant’ might sound correct in English, but in Hungarian a ‘migrant’ is an enemy who will kill us. Therefore, we call them ‘refugees’ … We could use the term ‘migrant’, but it is a delicate one as it is widely used by pro-government propaganda.

This national context is critical. Different media traditions are contingent on national history: experiences of migration differ from country to country and even norms of the role of journalism can be fundamentally different.

In Spain and Italy we found it common for reporters to highlight the expectation that they should make an emotional connection with the reader. In Germany and Sweden there was more focus on technical reporting. In some states with a recent history of autocratic government – such as Hungary – there was a more obvious effort by governments to try to influence reporting than in more established democracies.

But government influence was also felt in more nebulous and indirect ways in some countries where the ideal of press freedom was highly prized. Personal connections between politicians and powerful individuals within media organisations are known and understood by reporters, who consider this when they choose how to report issues. One UK newspaper journalist said the owner of the paper was always in their mind when reporting on a story: “There is an awareness of the owner’s circle of friends – he knows lots of influential people – and [awareness of] his enemies.”

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that journalists both shape – and are shaped by – their national policy discourse on migration. Reporters consider, of course, the factual question of “what has happened?”, but other variables also shape the world in which they operate: including what their audiences expect, how the story has been reported by other media, what may get the reporter into trouble, what the editor thinks of the issue and what sells.

Press culture

The way different national media report migration both emerges from cultural practices within media organisations, but also reinforces them. This can have profound impacts on policy outcomes. For example, the culture within UK media – particularly within newspapers – is particularly focused on winning political victories. Would the Brexit referendum result have been the same if it was more moderate?

German journalists, on the other hand, were particularly focused on moderation and social justice. The country may have reacted differently to receiving a million asylum seekers if the nation’s media had been less homogenous in this approach.

Finally, Hungary has developed a “patron and client” model of government relations with media. Would the administration of Victor Orban, the prime minister, have been able to implement its radical anti-immigration policies if the media were less dependent on government and had a greater degree of editorial freedom?

These questions are hypothetical, of course. But by drawing attention to the process of media production, rather than just content, we highlight the need for thoughtful scrutiny of media practices, that may, in turn help lead to better understanding of media and its role within policy-making in the future.

Source: Migrants and the media: what shapes the narratives on immigration in different countries – The Conversation

Tolley: Racialized and women politicians still get different news treatment

I am a great fan of Erin Tolley’s work. Some good words of advice to journalists covering politics and other spheres:

In the days after Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from federal cabinet, reportssuggested she was difficult, not a team player, and even “mean.” Supportersdenounced this framing and pointed to its gendered and racialized undertones, a criticism with which the prime minister eventually agreed. Even so, media coverage came complete with editorial cartoons depicting Wilson-Raybould bound, gagged and beaten. Although the cartoons were largely condemned, some commentators derided the critics as overly sensitive, while of one of the cartoonists blamed faux-outrage and virtue-signalling.

As the days wore on, a caucus colleague suggested that Wilson-Raybould couldn’t handle the pressure of her cabinet position. Others argued that the evident cabinet discord is a predictable outcome of the government’s focus on “identity politics,” with one columnistsaying the prime minister had “been hoisted by his own petard.”

The media and political institutions have both edged toward more inclusivity, but women and racialized minorities remain, as former journalist Vivian Smith has put it, “outsiders still.” This outsider status partly reflects basic demographics: Parliament, newsroomsand the parliamentary press gallery are still mostly made up of white men. But it is also indicative of the ways that race and gender structure politics.

I have researched news coverage and found systemic differences in the ways white and racialized politicians are covered by journalists. Similar patterns exist in media coverage of women in politics. As I point out in my 2016 book, Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics, these patterns are longstanding, so as the 2019 federal election campaign kicks into high gear, we are likely to see more of the same.

Racialized candidates’ coverage is as plentiful but more negative than that of white candidates. Their coverage focuses less on politically salient issues and is more likely to mention aspects of the candidate’s background like their race, immigration status or religion than is the case for white candidates. Racialized candidates are less likely to be quoted and more likely to be featured in stories that are buried on the inside pages of print editions. These patterns give racialized candidates less visibility and credibility.

Race influences how journalists decide to frame and portray their subjects. This type of coverage cues voters to apply racial considerations to their evaluations of politicians. It is grounded in assumptions about the meaning, importance and consequences of race. One aspect of this process is to assume that race is only relevant to subjects with minority racial backgrounds. Because of this, stories will often advance racial explanations in the coverage of racialized subjects but not in those about white subjects.

So, for example, when the news media do shine a light on racialized politicians, that coverage often frames them as a product of their demography. After the US midterm elections in 2018, which saw a record number of women candidates and several “historic firsts,” much of the coverage focused on the candidates who “broke race and gender barriers” and would be heading to Congress. There’s nothing wrong with covering these trailblazers, but the focus on their socio-demographic backgrounds conceals the other qualifications that they bring with them, including their professional credentials, community organizing and political acumen. The focus on socio-demographics has the effect of suggesting electoral success was a function of these candidates’ race or gender and that the backgrounds of white or male politicians did not factor into their victories.

Racialized women break the political mould in two ways: once on account of their gender and again on account of their race. Their media coverage bears the marker of their intersecting identities.

In my work, I have documented the portrayal of racialized women serving as members of Parliament in Canadian print news coverage since 1993. In addition to highlighting the novelty of racialized women politicians, there is a tendency to exoticize them.

In a 2008 Toronto Star news story, then-Bloc Québécois MP Vivian Barbot was described as having a “captivating smoky voice.” In a 2009 column in the Globe and Mail, Ruby Dhalla was referred to as “a young drop-dead gorgeous, Indo-Canadian woman,” while a list of “10 things you should know about Ruby Dhalla” that appeared in the same paper said the Liberal MP is “like something out of a Bollywood movie.”

Some argue that media framing is simply a reflection of a candidate’s self-presentation. For example, in speeches and interviews, Olivia Chow, a longtime Toronto city councilor, MP and one-time mayoral candidate often referenced her background as an immigrant and woman of colour. Her background helps to explain her political activism, but Chow herself suggests it is also a response to the racism and sexism she endured on the campaign trail. Her treatment included an editorial cartoon that depicted her with exaggerated slanted eyes, dressed as a Maoist communist, and riding on her late husband’s coattails. The race and gender of white male politicians is rarely mentioned: they are portrayed as the neutral standard. Chow tried to counteract this tendency by framing her own narrative rather than leaving it up to the media.

The ways in which the media cover political candidates partly comes down to what news outlets think will interest their viewers and readers. Journalists consider timeliness, relevance and novelty when deciding what stories to cover, what angle to adopt and who to quote.

The Canadian Press Stylebook, a reference for print journalists, provides some guidelines. In its section on race and ethnicity, journalists are counseled to “identify a person by race, colour, national origin or immigration status only when it is truly pertinent.” However, it goes on to say that “race is pertinent in reporting an accomplishment unusual in a particular race: for example, if a Canadian of Chinese origin is named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.”

The standard of a racially unusual accomplishment is not echoed in the section on sexism, which instead instructs journalists to “Treat the sexes equally and without stereotyping. . . . The test always is: Would this information be used if the subject were a man?” By contrast, there is no mention of this kind of reverse test in the section on race and ethnicity. There, journalists are not counseled to ask, “Would this information be used if the subject were white?” In other words, when determining what is relevant, the standard that journalists are advised to apply is different for race than it is for gender.

Although those in the media and those in politics might each be loath to admit it, these institutions share a common lineage, resting on foundations that are both racialized and gendered. In the political realm, for example, racist restrictions barred some Canadians from voting, sometimes until well into the 20th century. In other words, politicians and the news media are navigating institutions marked by racialized assumptions, not to mention prejudice, patriarchy and classism.

In this context, racialized women candidates stand out, and their atypicality provides journalists with what seems like a novel hook for a story.

The way for journalists to improve the fairness of their coverage is not to ignore race and gender altogether, but instead to use the same standard when deciding on the hook for stories, the way they will be framed, and which details they will focus on when they are covering white men and racialized women. Race and gender are as much factors in the political trajectories of successful white men as they are in the stories of racialized women who have triumphed. News coverage should reflect this.

Source: Racialized and women politicians still get different news treatment

Birth Tourism: Media interest following my Policy Options piece (updated)

While I had expected considerable media interest, given the substance and the politics of the issue, yesterday had me doing TV interviews on all major networks and a radio interview with Rob Breakenridge of Global news in Calgary.

The most in-depth TV interview was on Power and Politics at the 1:13 mark: Power and Politics 23 Nov 2018.

Global TV:  New numbers show more ‘birth tourism’ in Canada than thought

CTV: New data shows birth tourism on the rise on Canada

Later interviews

On Radio Canada Vancouver (in French):

Boulevard du Pacifique: La Colombie-Britannique, chef de file du tourisme des naissances

CTV’s Your Morning:

Shocking new study reveals “birth tourism” in Canada is steadily increasing

The Sunday Edition, with Michael Enright, featuring mmigration lawyer Jamie Liew and Jas Johal, MLA for Richmond-Queensboroug: Birth tourism may be a hot button issue in the next federal election

 

Government closely watching public opinion on asylum seekers, docs show

Duh!

The federal government has been closely monitoring public reaction to the influx of asylum seekers in Canada — regularly conducting national surveys and measuring discussions on social media.

Documents released to The Canadian Press under access-to-information law show department officials receive weekly internal updates on media coverage and public response to issues related to asylum seekers coming irregularly into the country across the Canada-U.S. border.

This monitoring includes internal polling conducted by the Immigration Department to track public opinion about asylum seekers.

Two mid-year surveys of 2,000 Canadians, conducted by the department in March, suggested Canadians were not overly confident about Canada’s ability to manage the border at unguarded points-of-entry and had little sense of obligation about accepting asylum seekers from the United States.

Fewer than half of respondents — 43 per cent in a telephone survey and 35 per cent in an online survey — agreed that Canada is taking appropriate steps to manage irregular border crossings.

Forty-two per cent of telephone respondents and just 18 per cent of those online indicated they felt the number of people coming to Canada and claiming asylum was at an appropriate level.

“Canadians are more receptive to refugees who have been selected by the government of Canada compared to those who come to Canada and claim asylum,” the internal document notes as one of its key takeaways from the public survey.

The documents also show the Immigration Department closely measures public comment about asylum seekers on social media. This includes a weekly average of how many times the issue is mentioned every day.

The government also measures the number of times media stories published about asylum seekers include “myths countering messaging.”

It also uses social media as a tool to disseminate information as part of its outreach efforts to discourage irregular migrants from coming to Canada.

A targeted advertising campaign using search engine marketing to reach key populations in the U.S. was launched on Dec. 18, 2017 and continued until March 17, 2018, which included “targeted messaging based on users’ search terms to users in select U.S. cities where larger temporary protected status populations are found,” the internal document states.

Canada first began experiencing an influx of “irregular” border crossers in early 2017, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would end a program that offered temporary protected status to immigrants from several countries in the United States.

Over 36,000 asylum seekers have since arrived in Canada from the U.S., avoiding official border checkpoints where they would have been turned back to the U.S. under the Safe Third Country agreement between the two countries. Instead, they have been crossing the border along forest paths and fields, declaring their intent to seek refugee status once on Canadian soil.

The issue has sparked calls for Canada to suspend or amend the Safe Third Country Agreement as a way to stop the flow of irregular migrants.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair points to the fact that there was not a major surge in the number of irregular border crossers apprehended by RCMP this summer compared to last summer.

“Our senior officials are working hard, they are working hard and they are managing the situation quite ably,” Blair said Thursday.

However, year-over-year numbers show that overall, more people have crossed irregularly into Canada so far this year compared to the number of individuals who crossed from January to September of 2017.

Source: Government closely watching public opinion on asylum seekers, docs show

MacDougall: Journalists are addicted to Twitter, and it’s poisoning their journalism

Valid points by MacDougall. Other observation, to be corrected as necessary by journalists, is the degree to which it cuts down on their time for more detailed investigation and reporting, thus resulting in less deep coverage of issues:

What’s the problem with the media?

Ping a journalist that question, and you’ll get back chapter and verse about the money problems facing newsrooms and the indifference of advertising-stealing platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Ask a random bloke on the street, however, and there’s a good chance the answer will be “bias” or “trust,” as in: “I don’t trust the press, they’re all biased.”

Ah, yes. The “fake” news. The “enemies of the people.” It’s not the best time to be repping the fourth estate.

The question now is how the press should fix their dismal approval ratings. A good start would be to stop being their own worst enemies. And a good place to start with that is ditching social media. It’s simply too easy for opinions to slip into posts that would never make it into news copy, leading to perceptions of bias.

Reporters should instead treat social media like the poison it is. For one, it’s not a representative sample of the public. Nor is the “shoot-first, think-later” mentality encouraged conducive to good journalism. Most importantly, social media reveals way too much of a reporter’s own bias to the people they cover and the people who read that coverage.

The ability of social media to reveal reporter bias has been apparent for years, but it’s shifted into overdrive now that Donald Trump has turned Twitter into grotesque political performance art, dragging an enraged global press corps with him, most of whom tweet their disgust or puzzlement at what the president does every day. And it’s affecting political journalism in every country. A day now isn’t a day without reporters broadcasting hot takes that risk tainting the coverage they ultimately provide.

And while it’s true most media organizations have guidelines or social media codes of conduct — most of which prohibit opining — they are largely self-enforced. Stretched editors simply can’t track their charges all day long on Twitter.

Forget about columnists, who are paid to give their opinion; it’s a mystery why straight news reporters would want to reveal anything about themselves or their views on public policy. Most politicians already think the press is biased — why risk confirming it for them in real-time?

Why, for example, would a freelance journalist want Conservative leader Andrew Scheer to know that his views on Scheer’s views on government are that they are a “ridiculous collection of straw men?” They might be, but good luck convincing Scheer’s people that anything you ever write will be a fair shake.

Sadly, it’s not just the smaller fish in the profession who blunder in this way; the problem reaches up much higher.

Lots of people heaped scorn on Maxime Bernier’s clumsy foray into multicuralism on Twitter before his split from the Conservative party, but did one of them really need to be the senior broadcast producer of Canada’s most-watched television news broadcast?

And then there was Rosemary Barton of the CBC, who suggested on Twitter that her network didn’t have a clue about Bernier’s motives for tweeting about diversity, even though reporter Evan Dyer inferred in his report that the one-year anniversary of the alt-right march in Charlottesville had informed Bernier’s timing, if not his thinking.

These examples are the kind of clever or knowing things journalists have always said to each other or their subjects. In private. Now they fire away for all to see. And for what? A bushel of RT’s and “likes”?

Ten years or so into the folly of social media, it should by now be clear that it’s the ranters and shouters who get the most clicks, not the neutral observer. Reporters should stop trying to play the game.

Ten years or so into the folly of social media, it should by now be clear that it’s the ranters and shouters who get the most clicks, not the neutral observer. Reporters should stop trying to play the game.

They should instead go back to being a mystery. To valuing personal scarcity over ubiquity. To ditching Twitter, and forgetting Facebook. Or, at least limiting appearances there to the posting of their work. They should also say “no” to shouty panel appearances alongside partisans.

Reporters might even find the lack of distraction focuses them on their work. And if a politician’s B.S. needs to be called out in real-time, reporters should have an editor or colleague peek over their shoulder to give them a sense check on tone. Because even super-fact checkers such as Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star can appear biased owing to the sheer volume of material they post to their channels. And most reporters aren’t dedicated super-fact checkers, they’re just smart people with opinions, ones the news-consuming public shouldn’t know.

Political journalism is at a crossroads. Reporters need to keep doing their valuable work. But do the work, full stop. Keep your opinions to yourself. More people will believe the good work you do if they have no idea who in the hell you are, or what you think about what’s going on.

Where is Canada’s multicultural television space?

Interesting commentary on television programming diversity:

Russell Peters’s much awaited return to television was finally satiated with the CTV show The Indian Detective, which aired last December. The sitcom has been five years in the making, and it’s a first for Peters, a Canadian stand-up comedian who began his career in Toronto. It tells the story of Doug D’Mello (played by Peters), a Canadian investigative cop who travels to India to meet his father and gets caught up in a criminal investigation. But the show has already received mixed reviews from audiences across the board. Reviewers have called it out for perpetuating stereotypes about India and failing to engage with its audience, both in Canada and abroad. The show received an overall rating of 6.6 on IMDB, although Rotten Tomatoes gave it a generous 87 percent.

Spread over four episodes, the series sought to set a new trend in Canada by internationalizing the setting of its production, with large parts of it being shot in India. The Indian Detective’s transnational location gets one wondering if CTV was hoping to create an international sensation, or at least engage with Canada’s vast multicultural population.

The show is the most recent addition to a short list of multicultural-themed TV programs produced by major Canadian public and private broadcasters, such as CBC and CTV. Canadian television, though, remains a limited-option entertainment platform that is often overshadowed by the U.S. With just over 58 percent of Canadian households consuming cable TV in 2016, the story of Canadian television programming remains rather humble. Its 2016 revenue was just over $7.2 billion.

Why aren’t Canadians watching traditional cable? Though there are technological and other reason for decline in cable subscriptions, one question must be considered: Who are the TV shows in Canada made for? If we were to look at the last 10 years of shows produced by two of Canada’s major broadcasters, CBC and CTV, they are primarily targeted to Canadians and Europeans. But Canada, the champion of multiculturalism, should prioritize TV programs with themes and characters that appeal to its vast multiethnic community, sponsored and produced by its public and private broadcasters. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Between 2007 and 2018, there were just three TV shows that focused on multicultural themes: Little Mosque on the Prairie, Kim’s Convenience, and now, The Indian Detective.

In the last three years, The Indian Detective and Kim’s Convenience have targeted a non-traditional audience within the Canadian media space, which could indicate a trend followed by other such productions. Kim’s Convenience, a CBC show that first aired in 2016, tells the story of a Canadian-Korean family and their convenience store in Toronto. The show portrays the city’s transforming multicultural community, and the family’s attempt to “fit in.” Kim’s Convenience explores the mores of the family-run convenience store, where you can find everything—jokes, too. The show plays out the conflict between the first-generation Korean parents and their kids who grew up in Canada without accentuating it with overplay of accents and cultural difference—something The Indian Detective banks on.

Canada has tried in the past to promote multicultural and multiethnic broadcasting by giving special provisions to the ethnic broadcasting category. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) Ethnic Broadcasting Policy of 1999 decided to allocate airtime to television and radio shows in third languages—that is, any language that isn’t English, French, or an Indigenous language—over the mainstream. But the CRTC’s broadcasting policy only applied to ethnic broadcasters, and encouraged them to create content in third languages. The only policy for non-ethnic public broadcasters—the public and major private broadcasters—is to dedicate up to 15 percent of their airtime toward ethnic programming, and which could be increased up to 40 percent by the conditions of the licence. The provision to incorporate ethnic programming remains a minor part of the overall policy, which is strictly focused on promoting a siloed concept of multicultural broadcasting. The CRTC policy has been relatively successful at adding a small set of private stations that includes broadcasters such as Omni TV, a Rogers Media production. Omni TV is a consortium of multicultural television programming which offers speciality channels broadcasted in languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Punjabi. 

Specialized television satellite services such as Omni TV have been working hard to bring more multicultural TV options for Canada’s vast multiethnic population, but it is a small dent in the spectrum of broadcasting made possible by Canada’s public broadcasters such as the CBC. As a person of South Asian heritage, I consume media in Punjabi and Hindi, a large set of which is made possible by the CRTC’s funding for ethnic programming. Apart from a very small set of productions, most of it succumbs to advertisements by mortgage brokers, realtors, and real estate brokers—and some just roll all three into one program. The distinction between a news or current affairs program and an advertisement for a product or a service seems to blur into one long segment. Programming that was meant to promote a cultural dialogue between Canada’s vast ethnically diverse communities is being used for investment advice, for instance, in various languages. On the contrary, a successful example of multicultural programming is Hockey Night in Canada, which is a broadcast of hockey games with commentary in Punjabi.

In the United Kingdom, the BBC has long ago realized the need to incorporate multicultural programming, and has been promoting TV shows and media that appeal to its multicultural population on the British Isles. The BBC has a dedicated radio station for Asian audiences—the Asian Network—broadcasting throughout the day; the radio channels primarily cater to the U.K.’s large population of Asian heritage. A successful example of the BBC’s investment in multicultural programming can be traced through the career of Sanjeev Bhaskar, a prominent BBC presenter. Sanjeev is best known for Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No. 42, India with Sanjeev Bhaskar, along with other regular appearances on BBC TV shows. He is among a long list of people of colour that have appeared on the network’s shows; other such figures include Mera Sayal, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton, and Gurinder Chaddha. The BBC’s production of multicultural situational comedy is well-established history that Canada could learn from. Some of the popular examples of multicultural comedy and drama from Britain include Real McCoy, Desmond’s, The Lenny Henry Show, Citizen Khan, and many others over the years.

Though multicultural programming options are thriving in Canada more than ever, it has resulted in a limited dialogue—broadcasting programs that many other Canadians can’t access, and vice-versa. But the recent productions of Kim’s Convenience and The Indian Detective are a positive trend that both major broadcasters should develop further. The CBC and CTV should rethink their strategy for Canadian television to remain relevant and keep up with the changing demographic of Canada. As the media landscape, both print and visual, faces its biggest financial challenge in years, there is a need to consider who consumes the TV shows and programs in Canada—and are Murdoch Mysteries or Heartland relevant to its multiethnic population?

via THIS → Where is Canada’s multicultural television space?

Women Of Color Are Severely Underrepresented In Newsrooms, Study Says

Long overdue for a comparable study in Canada:

People of color make nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, and women make up more than half. But you couldn’t guess that by looking at American journalists, according to a new report by the Women’s Media Center.

Women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 6.2 percent of local radio staff and 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, according to this year’s Status of Women in the U.S. Media study, the organization’s annual audit of diverse media voices.

“Women are just 32 percent of newsrooms, but the percentage of women of color is even more dire,” Cristal Williams Chancellor, director of communications at the Women’s Media Center, told NPR. “We wanted this year’s report to take a closer look at that segment.”

The report analyzed news organizations’ responses to “professional association queries” and included dozens of interviews with female journalists of color who shared their obstacles and triumphs.

Along with American newsrooms’ low representations of female journalists of color, the report also found that compared with in previous years, newspapers’ count of minority female employees stagnated or fell and radio hired fewer minority women.

Williams Chancellor said these findings weren’t shocking, given the enormous challenges that women of color continue to face in American newsrooms. Especially troublesome, she said, are the media’s methods of recruiting, hiring and promotion. “Part of the challenges come from the plagues that have been part of society for decades, such as racism and sexism, and the old boy’s network,” she told NPR.

Amanda Terkel, Washington bureau chief at the Huffington Post, discussed the nuances of landing a prestigious job in journalism. “So much of hiring in journalism is poaching from other news outlets, which is often a great way to get talent. But when you do that, you’re often dipping from the same pool of people rather than bringing in new voices,” she said in the report.

The Women’s Media Center recommends that media organizations conduct an audit of their employees, decision-makers and candidates for promotion and that they “staff with intention.” The organization also recommended that outlets diversify their news sources.

NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was featured in the report and recalled the difficulties she faced as a woman of color during the beginning of her 30-year career as an international reporter. ” ‘We want to hire this woman with this foreign-sounding name? How will that work?’ ” she remembers hearing. “Even sources seemed hesitant to call me back, at times. Could they pronounce my name? ‘Are you Asian, Middle Eastern? What exactly?’ ”

NPR’s 377-person news staff is 75.1 percent white, 8.8 percent black, 7.7 percent Asian, 6.1 percent Latino, 2.1 percent multiracial and 0.3 percent American Indian, according to the company’s latest report on the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of its newsroom. NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen called the numbers a “disappointing showing.” The newsroom is 56.2 percent female — the highest number in five years.

Last year’s Status of Women in the U.S. Media noted that “white men were 71 percent of NPR’s regular commentators in 2015. By comparison, in 2003, the rate was 60 percent.” NPR uses the term commentator for its opinion contributors.

The Women’s Media Center hopes that reporting on stagnating hires of female journalists of color will serve as a “wake-up call” to the media and its consumers. Featuring “diverse voices means that we have a more credible media, and a more democratic society,” said Williams Chancellor. “We need a media that’s more representative and inclusive, and looks like America.”

2,891 Murdoch Media Stories Trashing Islam In A Single Year, Study Reveals – New Matilda

Would be nice to have a comparable Canadian study, contrasting Postmedia (both their high brow and low brow brands), the Globe and the Star:

Loyal readers of New Matilda should remember One Path Network, a Muslim video production studio and media company in Sydney. They produced the first devastating report exposing Channel Seven’s favourite purported Muslim leader and sheikh, Mohammed Tawhidi.

Their calm and factual retort to Tawhidi’s lurid claims about Muslim conspiracies in Australia left his credibility in shreds.

The OPN team has come up with a new report on Islamophobia in Australian media. Disappointingly, I don’t think it has received any media coverage. Thus, New Matilda is proud to bring you a brief summary of its findings, and a few accompanying comments.

A quick summary of the report, complete with flashy graphs and images, and an accompanying short video, can be seen at this link. There’s also a longer PDF version, which can be downloaded at the site, and runs to 44 pages, though about 20 pages are devoted to front pages about Muslims. More on that shortly.

The report investigates how five newspapers covered Islam in 2017. Their primary metrics were a numerical count of certain types of stories, number of front pages, a few case studies, and a brief look at a handful of columnists reporting on Islam.

The newspapers were all Murdoch’s: the Australian, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, and Adelaide Advertiser.

Articles were regarded as “negative articles written about Islam”, if they “referred to Islam or Muslims alongside words like violence, extremism, terrorism or radical”. It should be noted – this is a pretty expansive definition. A story that accurately reported a noteworthy incident of Muslim violence, without being inflammatory or misrepresenting material facts, and which had the respectful cooperation of Muslims, would still be caught up under this definition.

Indeed, the definition could go further. A report that noted Muslim women in a non-government organisation helping victims of domestic violence might also be caught up under this definition. It should also be noted – there is an implicit slippage, in the sense that a negative story about Muslims isn’t necessarily a story about Islam. Thus, I would argue that the definition may be overbroad.

With that proviso, it’s not much of a secret that the Murdoch press constantly attacks Islam and Muslims. So, given this definition, how frequent were stories featuring Muslims or Islam in a negative sense?

There were 2,891 of them. That’s almost 3,000 negative stories relating to Islam in one year. Which is an incredible amount. That’s almost eight stories a day, every day, for the whole year, somehow relating Muslims to terrorism or violence or whatever.

It’s a shame that the study didn’t investigate other media more fully. It would be interesting to know how they compare. The website guide to the report features an interesting comparison of Fairfax and Murdoch articles about Islam (in the sense explained above). Interestingly, though Fairfax has considerably less coverage of Muslims than the Murdoch press, it’s still pretty substantial, at over 100 every month. That is, over three negative stories every day at the less Islam-obsessed Fairfax. And even this gives an unfair disproportionate advantage to Fairfax – it is not clear which Fairfax publications were taken into consideration in this count.

The next metric is front pages. Here, the numbers are pretty stark. 152 front pages relating to Islam or Muslims in a negative way. The graph gives an idea of how regular that is, though it seems likely on some days multiple papers had Islam related stories on the front page.

The front pages blur out the non-Islam related stuff, and make the content of interest in focus. This is an idea of what those front pages looked like:

Again, a weakness in this study is the overly broad definition. One interesting case is a Daily Telegraph story headlined “A KICK IN THE ASSAD”, about the Trump administration bombing Syria. To my mind, that story doesn’t relate to Islam in any serious sense. Yet funnily enough, the bottom of the page says: “NSW TERROR: ISIS LINK TO SERVO STABBING MURDER”. The Tele was determined to claim its space in this report.

The report turns to case studies, what is calls “ridiculous highlights” from the year. The first example is the coverage of terrorism. They observe that “a casual observer would not be faulted for thinking that Australia was actively engaged in daily combat on its streets. In fact, it would hardly be surprising if that was the perception in the offices of the Daily Telegraph and The Australian.”

The section on Yassmin Abdel-Magied reaches a staggering count of over 200 articles about her. This obsession is utterly deranged. I fear that this year too, we’ll continue to see Murdoch hacks trolling her social media to find new anodyne liberal tweets to feign outrage over.

Possibly the most revealing part of the study relates to opinion writers at the Murdoch press. We all know their positions. Yet it is striking to see their obsession with Islam quantified. All of them write about Islam a lot. Miranda Devine, one of the least devoted Islam bashers, made 16 per cent of her 185 op eds about Islam. Janet Albrechtsen weighed in at 27 per cent, a bit less than Greg Sheridan at 29 per cent. Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi came in at 38 per cent and 37 per cent – particularly impressive for Bolt, who produced 473 opinion pieces in the year (I suspect this counts blog items). Jennifer Oriel wrote 48 op eds, and over half were about Islam.

What is striking about this to me is that this is like a kind of one-sided cultural war. When the Australian decided to promote Keith Windschuttle, progressive academics rallied to defend historical truth. When they trash climate change science, other media covers the actual record of what’s happening to the world. When the Murdoch press run anti-feminist claptrap, there are plenty of feminists at Fairfax and the Guardian to strike back.

But there is no serious mainstream contestation of this constant drumbeat of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam stories and op eds. These are hundreds of op eds demonising Islam, without any real response. There are apparently no Muslims working at (say) ABC or Fairfax to give a different take on these issues, or complain about what the Murdoch press is doing.

The report concludes with some brief analysis and statistics, which are kind of incredible when paired. One is the finding from an Australian National University study that 71 per cent of Australians were concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism. A reasonable finding, one might think, given the nature of media coverage of Muslims (I really wish One Path would do a follow-up study on other media outlets).

(IMAGE: André-Pierre du Plessis, Flickr)

Yet Griffith University researchers found the second statistic: 70 per cent of Australians think they know “little to nothing” about Islam and Muslims. Which raises an obvious question about what public opinion might be like if the media in Australia did its job differently.

My major reservation about the study is the broad definition of negative stories about Islam. If we simply regard these as stories about Islam or Muslims connected to violence, terrorism, and extremism, then the findings remain shocking. This is a constant, endless deluge of stories about Islam and Muslims. The vast majority receive no counter-argument or response, whether in the Murdoch press or elsewhere.

There are no ensconced media platforms for Muslims to write about Islamophobia in Australia with the kind of relentlessness of a Bolt or Oriel. The study shows a vast media empire endlessly picking on a small Australian minority before a huge audience, without offering the victims any way of defending their names and religion before that audience.

And the study that documented this is being ignored.

ICYMI: Racist reporting still rife in Australian media

Haven’t seen the equivalent study of Canadian media but may have missed it (readers to advise):

Half of all race-related opinion pieces in the Australian mainstream media are likely to contravene industry codes of conduct on racism.

In research released this week, the Who Watches the Media report found that of 124 race-related opinion pieces published between January and July this year, 62 were potentially in breach of one or more industry codes of conduct, because of racist content.

Despite multiple industry codes of conduct stipulating fair race-related reporting, racist reporting is a weekly phenomenon in Australia’s mainstream media.

We define racism as unjust covert or overt behaviour towards a person or a group on the basis of their racial background. This might be perpetrated by a person, a group, an organisation, or a system.

The research, conducted by not-for-profit group All Together Now and the University of Technology Sydney, focused on opinion-based pieces in the eight Australian newspapers and current affairs programs with the largest audiences, as determined by ratings agencies.

We found that negative race-related reports were most commonly published in News Corp publications. The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Herald Sun were responsible for the most negative pieces in the press. A Current Affair was the most negative among the broadcast media.

Chart 1: Number of race-related stories by outlet and type of reporting

Muslims were mentioned in more than half of the opinion pieces, and more than twice as many times as any other single group mentioned (see chart 2).

Muslims were portrayed more negatively than the other minority groups (see chart 3), with 63% of reports about Muslims framed negatively. These pieces often conflated Muslims with terrorism. For example, reports used terrorist attacks in the UK to question accepting Muslim refugees and immigrants to Australia.

This was a recurring theme in race-based opinion pieces over the study period. In contrast, there were more positive than negative stories about Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

Negative commentary about minority groups has lasting impacts in the community. An op-ed in the New York Times recently highlighted the impact that racism in the media has on individuals. It explained:

…racism doesn’t have to be experienced in person to affect our health — taking it in the form of news coverage is likely to have similar effects.
The noted effects include elevated blood pressure, long after television scenes are over. Racism is literally making us sick.

Note also that given the lack of cultural diversity among opinion-makers, particularly on television, social commentators are largely talking about groups to which they do not belong. According to the 2016-20 PwC Media Outlook report, the average media employee is 27, Caucasian and male, which does not reflect the current population diversity of Australia.

This creates a strong argument for increasing the cultural diversity of all media agencies to help minimise the number of individuals or groups being negatively depicted in race-related reports.

via Racist reporting still rife in Australian media