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

Canada’s First Hijab-Wearing Television News Reporter Is Using Her Difference To Break Barriers: Forbes

Interesting profile:

Canada is a country known for it’s multiculturalism, and nowhere represents that better than Toronto. As the fourth largest city in North America and the most diverse metropolitan area in the world, Toronto is home to people of all racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds. From Greektown to Little Jamaica, from food festivals to musical showcases, from the ringing bells of churches to the prayer calls of mosques, the corners of the world convene in Toronto. But despite this rich diversity, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman had never anchored a major newscast in the city, or anywhere else in the country. Not until 2015. Not until Ginella Massa.

Massa made history two years ago when she appeared on televisions across the Greater Toronto Area on CityNews Toronto’s late night news show. While Muslim women had anchored newscasts in Canada before, none had ever done so in a hijab.

The gravity of this was not lost on Massa. “When I have young girls coming up to me saying how excited they are seeing someone like me in a mainstream medium, and that it makes them feel like it’s something they too can aspire to be, that’s what keeps me encouraged and inspired to keep doing the work I’m doing,” she explained.

“My mother was the one who suggested that I might want to pursue a career in broadcasting, given my loquaciousness, my inquisitive nature, and my ability to easily connect with all different kinds of people. When I questioned whether I could be given a chance on broadcast TV, she would tell me, ‘just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you can’t be the first,’” Massa recalls.

Massa pursued a degree in journalism and later worked as a digital content editor for the website of a small news station. But getting an anchor role is a considerable challenge for aspiring news reporters with no on-air experience. So, Massa, decided to create an opportunity for herself. Together with her friend, Maleeha Sheikh, Massa co-produced an online web-series. Though they didn’t have a huge budget or audience, the episodes were good footage for their portfolios and demo reels and proved they had essential industry skills.

It paid off. “We only ended up doing 4 episodes because a month later [Sheikh] got offered a job reporting on a morning show, and I landed my first on-air gig about 4 months later,” Massa notes.

Ginella Massa’s first newscast

Of course, the journey to that job did not come without fears and apprehensions. Though Massa never worried about her abilities or the quality of her work, before getting hired on at CityNews, her concern was that networks would hesitate to hire her for fear of controversy or backlash in response to the outward display of her faith. But a mentor encouraged Massa to embrace her difference and position it as an asset, and that’s precisely what she did.

In interviews, Massa encouraged the directors she met with to see the importance of reflecting the diversity of their audience. In a city where more than half the population is made up of visible minorities, hiring a hijab-wearing Muslim woman was not a risk, it was a willful decision to include the voices of communities that are often left unheard.

Now, with every broadcast, Massa not only reminds Muslim girls that they could one day be anchors too, she also continues to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions her colleagues and viewers might hold.

“I recognize that some of the people I work with would otherwise never have any interaction with a Muslim, and it’s opened their eyes and made them realize that Muslims have a vested interest in our society, that we’re intelligent and talented, and we care about the same issues as many Canadians,” Massa notes.

Massa hopes that her role will continue to inspire other Muslim women to go after roles in the public sector where they can help change the negative narratives around what women of her faith can achieve. She extends that same message to women and girls of all faiths, races, and cultural backgrounds who might feel that they don’t belong in the spaces they dream of occupying.

The advice she offers is universal: “Don’t let anyone else silence your dreams because of their perception of what you can or cannot achieve. You’re going to have to work hard to overcome those barriers that people will try to put in front of you. Be persistent, don’t give up, and work on being the best, so no one can ever have a reason to say no.”

via Canada’s First Hijab-Wearing Television News Reporter Is Using Her Difference To Break Barriers

‘Australia’s media is frighteningly white’, says The Monkeys’ Scott Nowell – AdNews

Good article on multicultural marketing – the ads are worth watching for the contrast (the humour on “boat people”):

The Australian media is “frighteningly” white and the nation is lagging behind in its representation of broader media, believes The Monkeys co-founder Scott Nowell and former Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) top marketer Andrew Howie.

The pair were speaking at AdNews Live! Reframing Australia in Sydney yesterday (15 November) to address the changing face of Australia, and talk through how The Monkeys and MLA tackle multiculturalism in marketing.

For over a decade, MLA has been renowned for its Australia Day and spring lamb ads that for the past several years have focused on the theme of diversity and inclusion.

Howie, who recently announced he was joining Westpac, said that as Australia’s cultural variety has evolved, MLA has had to evolve its brand to target a diverse, younger Australia.

MLA has had to evolve its ads from its all-white cast in 1990

The result has seen the brand achieve significant earned media and significant uplift in sales, but it’s not been without controversy.

This year the MLA chose to move away from the Australia Day focus as it recognised that a significant segment of the population felt negatively about the date.

“MLA has been a brand that has been about Australia Day but it was starting to feel like it wasn’t right to talk about Australia Day from a brand that talks about unity,” Nowell said, adding it was a hard but clear choice for MLA.

“Our intention was to show the true face of Australia and not just the one we see on television,” Howie added.

The process of creating the ad was difficult, Howie and Nowell admitted. The ad focused on the settlement of Australia, which can be a sensitive subject for the indigenous, so the agency and brand were constantly in consultation with Reconciliation Australia.

The script was leaked, an actor refused to deliver his lines on the day of filming and there were some complaints made to the ad watchdog, but ultimately the campaign was a success, says Howie.

“Sometimes to find where the edge is you have to put your toes over the side,” Howie said, adding that its unlikely the brand will ever get everyone on side with the bold work its doing.

“We are not controversial for the sake of it but we are prepared to say what people won’t. Often they are things that people are talking about and the topics of conversation around water coolers but not said in the open.”

Howie and Nowell did admit they’ve gotten it wrong in the past, admitting that naming its 2016 campaign ‘Operation Boomerang’ was an oversight.

While this type of bold advertising is what we’ve come to expect from MLA under Howie’s leadership, he admits it’s probably not what you’ll see from Westpac when he joins in his new role.

“Banks don’t want controversy so don’t expect to see this stuff going on, but you can expect to see work that you enjoy watching,” Howie said, adding that he’d like to see the brand explore its purpose and own a time of year as MLA had previously owned Australia Day.

Source: ‘Australia’s media is frighteningly white’, says The Monkeys’ Scott Nowell – AdNews

Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media: John Ibbitson

Good piece by Ibbitson:

CNN has a new commercial that features a picture of an apple. “Some people might try to tell you it’s a banana,” says the narrator. They might even scream that it’s a banana. “They might put BANANA in all caps. … But it’s not. This is an apple.”

The ad was, of course, immediately attacked by right-wing columnists. “Trump Derangement Syndrome has struck CNN and is taking a terrible toll,” wrote Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.

The American media have become so deeply polarized that each side has now lost any ability to listen to the other. Each accuses the other of committing fake news – stories based on false facts that are intended to deceive. But the deeper problem resides in columns and editorials and blogs and tweets that take implacable stands, distorting facts and belittling opponents, ignoring or disrespecting other points of view.

On Thursday, on the RealClearPolitics aggregator website, you could find headlines such as “The Bone Spur Bozo in the White House,” and “Does the Dems Dossier Trick Count as Treason?”

So why aren’t Canadians screaming at each other the way the Americans are?

One answer is that “we don’t have Donald Trump as prime minister,” observes Janni Aragon, who teaches political science at the University of Victoria. The President personifies the anger embedded within American discourse. But Prof. Aragon adds that the differences in media reflect differences in the political cultures of the two countries.

America, she says, is a land divided. In Canada, “divisiveness is not as strong.”

There isn’t a single political leader in Canada whose platform mirrors the nativist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian strains that we see in President Trump and his supporters. Nor, with a few minor, on-the-fringe exceptions (We’re talking about you, The Rebel), do Canadian media cater to racist phobias.

Why not? There could be several reasons.

Since the first Loyalist settlers arrived in the late 1700s, Canadian political culture has been tinged with what has been called a “tory touch,” an upper-class British tradition that stresses collective obligations over individual liberties. This sense of noblesse oblige underlies many of the value assumptions of the mainstream media.

Our small and scattered population also contributes, says Kirk Lapointe, who held a variety of positions in Canadian media (he was once my boss), and who teaches journalism at the University of British Columbia. There are so many Americans, he points out, that fringe publications can profitably publish, giving extremists a voice. But Canadian publications must cater to more moderate views in order to win a large enough audience to make a profit.

Mr. Lapointe hosts a Vancouver radio talk show. In his experience, extremists don’t attract listeners. “I see a fair amount of revulsion when someone like that tries to grab the microphone,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s large immigrant population is also a steadying influence. With four in 10 Canadians either an immigrant or the son or daughter of an immigrant, nativist voices have little hope of dominating the print, broadcast or digital conversation.

Pollster Michael Adams has published a book, Could It Happen Here? that compares Canadian and American political and social values in the age of Trudeau and Trump. To cite just one powerful statistic: According to one poll, 50 per cent of Americans believe that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house.” In Canada, the figure is 23 per cent.

To explain these differences, Mr. Adams refers to a chronic streak of paranoia that has long run through American politics, and Horatio Alger-like belief that anyone can make it to the top – so if you don’t, the system must be conspiring against you. He also cited the baleful influence of evangelical religion, gerrymandered Congressional districts and increasing income insecurity.

“In this paranoid atmosphere, people feel entitled not only to their own opinions but also to their own facts,” he believes. “And now, in the age of the internet, each is his own publisher and editor locked inside an ideological bubble with fellow travellers.”

This paranoid polarization infects the right more than the left in American politics. There is no progressive equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News. But the left is not immune to intolerance.

At the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) last week, a small group of protesters self-identifying as antifascists interrupted a forum on, of all things, how best to challenge hate speech. “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist U.S.A.” they yelled, shutting down a question-and-answer session that resumed later in another room.

The discourse in Canadian politics and journalism is far from perfect. Indigenous Canadians, especially, do not see their values and priorities reflected in either Canada’s political culture or its media. Newsrooms are far less diverse than the communities they cover.

And Prof. Aragon warns of the tendency of American cultural influences to “trickle up” across the border. Polarized American media risk polarizing Canadian media through the sheer power of proximity.

Nonetheless, as President Trump sends out one angry tweet after another, Canadians retain deeper wells of moderation and goodwill than their American cousins.

In this country, just about everyone seems to agree that an apple is not a banana.

Source: Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media – The Globe and Mail

A cultural policy that overlooks multiculturalism [media focus]

George Abraham, publisher of New Canadian Media, on the need for broader and more diverse journalism (disclosure: I assisted George and New Canadian Media during its early years):

For a multicultural country, we have a rather monocultural media landscape. Our newsrooms and media organizations no longer reflect their audiences.  Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly missed an opportunity to make a policy intervention that would have at least nudged some reform.

Canada’s multicultural media has been decimated in recent years.  There were budget cuts in multicultural programming at the Rogers-owned OMNI Television. A promising media enterprise that published a string of multicultural and community newspapers went under in 2013. It was ironic that the Mississauga-based Multicultural Nova Corporation was being subsidized by the Italian government. These and other outlets help Canadians weave a shared narrative around what it means to be Canadian, at a time when our “ethno-cultural” (to use a favourite expression of bureaucrats) makeup is rapidly changing. Our ethnic media remain as fragmented and resource-strapped as ever.

“Canada’s ethnic and third-language communities do not have access to enough news and information programming in multiple languages from a Canadian perspective,” the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Jean-Pierre Blais said in May.

The fact is, Canada is rapidly changing before our eyes, but we continue to sleepwalk through this transformation.

While media organizations and journalism schools appear to have given up measuring the representation of minorities in newsrooms (the last credible industry-wide study was in 2004), the government is aware that this lack of representation is a major handicap for new immigrants. A June 2014 study titled “Evidence-based Levels and Mix: Absorptive Capacity” (bureaucratese for how well Canada integrates its immigrants) stated categorically: “There is no clear commitment to achieving diversity in Canada’s newsrooms or in Canadian news content.” (The study was commissioned by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and it was released under the Access to Information Act.)

The government’s new cultural policy did little to shift the conversation to the emerging media players who are redefining journalism for a new era. It failed to state the obvious: a shrinking cohort of media organizations that have monopolized national discourse are headed for irrelevance, because neither their audience nor their newsrooms are reflective of Canada at large.

This lopsided media structure means that folks like me don’t get to tell our own stories on our own terms. Somebody else uses the lens of their lived experience to interpret our immigrant stories. A cultural and content policy written in 2017 ought to have been much more mindful of this shift – roughly 40 percent of Canadians are either foreign-born or the children of immigrants (the bulk of them have Asian roots, like Jagmeet Singh). The minister should have outlined specific goals to foster and sustain the kind of journalism that reflects a new Canada where the rise of a sardar (turbaned Sikh) is not a leap of faith, but a fact of life.

I write this as somebody who is well aware of the perils of “government support.” Not all governments are benign actors. In Dubai, the owners of the newspaper where I once worked found themselves on the wrong side of the ruling family. We had a dedicated “reporter” whose job was to relay diktats from the government to the editor. At another outlet in Doha, the newspaper was owned by the country’s then foreign minister. It was my job as managing editor to walk the gauntlet between censorship and shackled freedom. The country even had a director of censorship, who subsequently became the editor-in-chief of an Arabic language newspaper.

Not all journalists welcome government support. The Canadian nonprofit media organization that I run has lost editors who couldn’t live with any form of government funding. We’ve viewed these grants – including those from the Canada Periodical Fund – as seed money for an enterprise that serves the collective public good. I’d like to think that we exist because we fulfill a need. Joly missed an opportunity to signal a shift of tax dollars towards content that enables new players to take advantage of gaps in the marketplace of ideas.

I also know first-hand that editors and newsroom managers are loath to take the bold steps that will change the demographics of their newsrooms. There’s a lot of lip service being done out there and little concrete action. The cultural industries policy statement could have made a big difference by offering incentives to correct this imbalance and foster the growth of alternative media platforms that cater to niche markets.

Instead, the headline coming out of the policy statement was focused on Netflix and its promise to make investments in Canadian productions, as if this would in some way feed this country’s desperate need for a new narrative and a new conversation. Entertainment seemed to take precedence over journalism in the policy announcement, although both embody the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell the rest of the world.

However, fact is more important than fiction. Facts are sacrosanct and the need of the hour. The phenomenon of “fake news” can only be addressed by true and tested journalism. The opinions of Canadians need to be shaped by solid, on-the-ground reporting done by journalists who are embedded in their communities and share the lived experience of the places they call home. This includes newcomer journalists who offer unique perspectives about their communities and are informed by the day-to-day trials that immigrants face in buying or renting homes, finding employment, enrolling their children in schools and becoming full members of the society around them. There is a public interest in ensuring that their voices are heard, not just through niche media and ethnic platforms but also in legacy newsrooms.

The federal government has rightly supported Canadian culture and content since the days of the Massey Commission in 1951. A Canada of 35 million people, or an imagined one of 100 million, will live or die on the ties that bind its people together. Old-fashioned journalism ought to be the bedrock of a more globalized, more multicultural Canada.

Source: A cultural policy that overlooks multiculturalism

On diversity, Canadian media is throwing stones in a glass house – Murad Hemmadi

I share the wish for more accurate data on diversity in the media (have asked for a breakdown from Labour Canada of the broadcasting sector) that would likely show under-representation in management ranks and columnists, likely less so with respect to journalists.

In this sense, media may be no different than other sectors where visible minorities tend to be at more junior levels compared to “whites” due in part to relatively shorter periods of time in Canada.

However, my general reading of articles and commentary on immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism indicates for the most part that the major issues are covered with a broader perspective than just “white.”

I wish I could quantify here the degree to which Canadian media is white. Then-Canadaland reporter Vicky Mochama once asked Canadian media outlets for diversity data. They were reluctant to cooperate, and did not opt instead to collect and publish the data themselves; it is, after all, harder to criticize organizations for what we can’t count. A J-Source attempt to gather self-reported diversity data about columnists produced incomplete results in part because some of those contacted were actively hostile to any such measure. So the best I can offer is that looking around newsrooms, the senior ranks are disproportionately white, and the people of colour present are more commonly found towards the bottom of the masthead and in strung-together contract positions or internships. The result of not having people in the building who understand specific identities and cultures is that your publication does not cover them often, if at all, and when it does it’s often in an insulting or stereotypical way.

Look, you can’t stretch your legs in Canadian media without kicking someone connected to you. Of those who opted to pledge their support for the appropriation prize online, Alison Uncles is editor-in-chief of this publication, and Maich runs the publishing arm at Rogers, which owns Maclean’s. (Both noted they were acting as individuals). Whyte himself was at Rogers until recently, while National Post editor-in-chief Anne Marie Owens and Coyne left Maclean’s a few years ago.

However permissive the workplace, it is always the case that to criticize or question the lack of diversity and pervasive whiteness of Canadian media is to risk alienating someone who may one day be a coworker or boss. To be clear, and for what it’s worth, I’ve never had it so much as hinted to me by those I work with or for that I should be less vocal about these topics. But faced with an industry whose power players often actively reject or else pay lip service to diversity, both in the workforce and the subjects covered, I’m left to wonder how often I can bring it up before it becomes my label—“that brown guy who keeps whining that we’re not diverse enough.” (Or in a more egregious example, think of Desmond Cole, who wrote about race too often, according to the Toronto Star’s publisher).

Told there’s nothing wrong, or that things aren’t as bad as we make them seem, we press our case again and again. With every passing insistence, white decision-makers are increasingly able to dismiss us as shrill and one-noted, muting us with calls for “civil discussion” in rooms reserved for higher-level, disproportionately white staff. Already, that repeated denial of what we see in our lives— “gas-lighting”—has a chilling effect of its own, teaching us that we best not talk about these things because we won’t be believed or taken seriously.

So imagine how discouraging it is to see the decision-makers who cannot find money in the newsroom for more diversity gladly offer to give their own for a cause that people of colour and Indigenous people have pointed out actively devalues us.

Of course, I don’t expect the people who pitched in to Whyte’s effort to pay for a permanent reporter position out of their own pockets, though the total they’ve pledged would have covered a month of my first full-time salary. And it’s true that “not quickly enough” will always be my view of how fast newsrooms must work to diversify. But the symbolism of white Canadian media decision-makers sponsoring an appropriation prize via a Thursday night Twitter thread—that’s something people of colour and Indigenous people in the industry could have done without.

Source: On diversity, Canadian media is throwing stones in a glass house – Macleans.ca

The Modern Newsroom Is Stuck Behind The Gender And Color Line : NPR

Unfortunately, we do not appear to have comparable data regarding diversity in Canadian newsrooms, where likely many of the same concerns would apply:

In many of today’s newsrooms, women and journalists of color remain a sliver of those producing and reporting stories. According to studies from the American Society of News Editors, the Women’s Media Center and the advocacy group VIDA, gender and ethnic diversity in newsrooms have hardly improved in the last decade despite increasing demand for more inclusive journalism in the current round-the-clock news cycle.

Nationally, Hispanic, black and Asian women make up less than 5 percent of newsroom personnel at traditional print and online news publications, according to 2016 data from the American Society of News Editors. The organization stopped requiring that news outlets reveal their identities in an attempt to increase participation in the yearly census. Numbers from 433 news organizations that participated in 2015 and 2016 show a 5.6 percent increase in the minority workforce, now at 17 percent at print and online news sites. But the numbers lag far behind demographic shifts in a country where nearly 40 percent of Americans are part of a minority group. Around the country, local newsrooms remain largely white by most measures. (In the spirit of full disclosure, NPR’s latest diversity figures can be found here.)

In March, the Women’s Media Center released its annual report on gender representation in the media (print bylines, internet, broadcast and other outlets). The latest numbers show a tiny change — 37.7 percent of the news was credited to female journalists, according to an analysis of over 24,000 pieces of news content. Major national outlets continue to be dominated by men, and women actually lost representation in broadcast news television.

In a 2015 survey by the group VIDA: Women of the Literary Arts, magazines with a focus on news and culture, such as The New Yorker, The New Republic and Harper’s, don’t fare any better. VIDA’s numbers show that women of color (and minorities in general) are virtually absent from the political commentary and investigative journalism these magazines provide. Though nearly 20 percent of the country’s population is Hispanic, very few of these publications had a single VIDA respondent self-report as Hispanic.

The implications of this generalized absence are manifold, and begin at the storytelling level.

A September 2016 piece by Lonnae O’Neal in The Undefeated, a site that covers how sports, race and culture intersect, described how NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche — one of the country’s leading African American national sports reporters — covered the story of Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem as an act of protest. His refusal, Wyche learned, formed part of a larger outcry over police violence against black men and women. Initial reports by other outlets focused on Kaepernick as divisive and a potential distraction in the locker room. For O’Neal, who analyzed the coverage with a racial lens, the Kaepernick story raised questions “about why the country is more brown than ever but mainstream journalism is so white.”

O’Neal herself rose through the ranks as a Washington Post reporter and columnist for 24 years before joining The Undefeated. She sees her race as providing an added edge in stadiums filled with mostly black players. “Because I’m experienced, because I’m a woman, and because I’m African American, I can go right up to people and find an entry, a portal, a way to talk without layers and layers of translation,” she said. Her common background with her sources, the “cultural resonance” between them, won’t always carry the day, “but it goes a long way.”

For O’Neal, hiring women, minorities and generally journalists of diverse backgrounds is not a luxury or a matter of “different optics,” or political expedience, as recruiters typically approach the matter, but essential to the profession’s mission and longevity. A typical white, male-centric newsroom, means critical stories will continue to go unreported and news analysis will remain unbalanced.

“We need new and different lenses, people of different backgrounds thinking at the table. We’ll only be richer for having that. Why is it so hard to set as an intention? Because many folks are going to be uncomfortable with what that looks like,” O’Neal said.

In the meantime, old narratives about race and identity don’t change. Latinos are mostly U.S.-born and consist of dozens of sub-groups. But, says Dana Mastro, a professor in the department of communication at the University of California in Santa Barbara, they’re seen only in one frame — immigration.

“The idea that there are other narratives just doesn’t pan out,” said Mastro, who researches racial and ethnic stereotyping in the media with a particular interest in Latinos. “It’s immigration and almost entirely threat-driven,” she said. “You just don’t see other themes emerge, and Latinos are almost exclusively portrayed as undocumented Mexicans,” she added.

Source: The Modern Newsroom Is Stuck Behind The Gender And Color Line : Code Switch : NPR