Elsewhere they get it but the Australian media is still living in White Australia

Haven’t seen anything as comprehensive with respect to Canadian media although there have been partial samples showing underrepresentatioon:

Few would argue that Australian media does well at representing cultural diversity. Certainly not in a way you’d expect when we are a multicultural society, often trumpeted as the most successful of its kind in the world.

Now, for the first time, we have the numbers that show us just how representative – or rather, unrepresentative – the state of play is.

In our report, Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories?, we gathered data to provide the first comprehensive picture of who tells and produces stories in Australian television news and current affairs. We examined about 19,000 news and current affairs items broadcast on free to air television during two weeks in June 2019.

In their frequency of appearance on screen, we found that more than 75 per cent of presenters, commentators and reporters have an Anglo-Celtic background. While about 18 per cent have a European background, only 6 per cent of those on screen have an Indigenous or non-European background. Within our sample, none of the commercial networks had more than 5 per cent of presenters, commentators and reporters who have a non-European background.

Compare this with the Australian general population. Based on the 2016 Census figures on ancestry, the Australian Human Rights Commission has previously estimated that 58 per cent of Australians have an Anglo-Celtic background, 18 per cent have a European background, 21 per cent have non-European backgrounds, and 3 per cent identify as Indigenous.

It has been nearly five decades since an official multiculturalism was adopted in Australia. Yet that has had limited visible impact on our media.

To be fair, Australian media isn’t the only arena where this is the case. Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds dominate the leadership ranks of politics, business, the public service and our universities. Our institutions fail to make the most of the talents within our society.

Diversity is often embraced only in name, and not in norms. If there’s a glass ceiling that many women in work hit, then those from minority backgrounds hit a cultural one. According to a survey we conducted as part of our research, more than 85 per cent of non-European background journalists believe having a culturally diverse background represents a barrier to career progression.

Representation, though, matters. It particularly matters for our television media: the medium shows us who we are as a people and as a culture. News and current affairs media have a special role in identifying and telling stories about issues of importance to all Australians.

Yet it’s overwhelmingly journalists who have Anglo-Celtic backgrounds who report, select and produce these stories. The result? Too often, media does a poor job of covering race issues.

For example, just about every time there’s a panel discussion about racism on commercial breakfast television, it involves an all-white panel that has minimal understanding of what has happened. Worse, commercial breakfast television currently seems to thrive on stoking prejudice. For sections of the media, racism is part of their business model.

Even our public broadcasters have their blind spots. For the past 10 years, the ABC’s Insiders program had no journalist who was a person of colour on its panel – something it has only rectified last month. Multicultural broadcaster SBS has recently been criticised for how it treated Indigenous journalists, and for the lack of cultural diversity within its senior management.

It’d be unthinkable for any television network to have a football commentary team on air, where not a single commentator would have experience playing the sport. By the same logic, networks should understand it’s a problem, in a multicultural society, when there’s little or no diversity within its news and current affairs.

Media elsewhere seem to get it. Indeed, Australian media lags significantly behind English-speaking counterparts. What we look like on screen can seem decades behind the United States and the United Kingdom. While they are themselves far from perfect, US and British media organisations have better collection and monitoring of data on their diversity. They’ve also been bolder at setting targets for minority talent.

For change to happen here, Australian media organisations will need to take similar steps. But more than that, there needs to be a cultural change in mindset. Too often, there is unwarranted defensiveness about criticisms concerning diversity. People can wrongly feel that a critique of systemic patterns of under-representation amount to personal attacks, or even a form of “reverse racism”. Deflections and denials come all too easily.

Talk about diversity and race will always spark debate. But it’s hard to argue with the evidence. In the case of our media, the numbers tell us we are still living in a White Australia, even if the White Australia policy was dismantled nearly 50 years ago.

Source: Elsewhere they get it but the Australian media is still living in White Australia

Calls grow for news outlets reporting on systemic racism to address own failures

Of note. Ironically, and perhaps not surprising, on Wednesday, watched a Star panel on equity. Including the moderating, 4 women, 1 man, 4 visible minorities, much more diverse than others I have watched:

Journalists have not had to go far to uncover searing stories of racism in Canada — they’re finding them in their own newsrooms, among their co-workers and involving their bosses.

All while reporters increasingly turn their attention to detailing institutional discrimination in nearly all other facets of society, including justice, politics, health care and education.

For the similarly flawed media industry, a long-standing problem has suddenly become harder to ignore: Many outlets striving to inform the public of widespread racial bias do so with stories that are assigned, reported and analyzed by predominantly white editorial staff.

The not-so-surprising result? They’re failing, say industry watchers and a growing number of staff members risking their jobs to speak out. And while many media organizations are expressing renewed commitments to diversify their newsrooms and coverage, those journalists say it will take more than pledges to create meaningful change.

A SERIES OF MISSTEPS

Revelations have emerged in recent weeks of racial indignities suffered at multiple news outlets, where current and former employees are attempting to lift the curtain on how and why tensions persist.

Corus Entertainment faced a public lashing by rank-and-file staff over claims of toxic workplaces for people of colour; the National Post endured a newsroom revolt over contentious columns that denied the existence of systemic racism in Canada; CBC suspended and disciplined star Wendy Mesley for twice quoting a racial slur in editorial meetings and CBC Radio’s “Yukon Morning” host Christine Genier resigned over the lack of Indigenous representation in Canadian media.

While there might be an increase in the number of on-air personalities who are people of colour, that’s not an accurate measure of success, says diversity consultant and former journalist Hamlin Grange, whose firm DiversiPro Inc. was recently hired by Corus Entertainment to review its operations.

“It’s the people who are behind the scenes, the decision-makers that really matter and that’s where the media in this country have failed.”

It’s not for lack of trying, of course.

Over the years, there have been recruitment efforts, training sessions, and diversity pledges, just as there have been in other business sectors.

But anything that fails to dismantle systemic and structural barriers are superficial measures that don’t achieve meaningful change, says Brian Daly of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists.

MORE EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS

The CABJ and Canadian Journalists of Colour have partnered for a joint call to action that includes: regular disclosure of newsroom demographics, more representation and coverage of racialized communities (in part through hiring), and proactive efforts to seek, retain and promote Black and Indigenous journalists and journalists of colour to management positions.

They also suggest regular consultation with racialized communities on news coverage, identifying and addressing systemic barriers, targeted scholarships and mentorship opportunities, and encouraging journalism schools to lay the groundwork with diverse faculty and more focus on how to cover racialized communities.

Many on the ground agree conditions won’t improve without system-wide changes.

An expressed desire to address diversity is not enough, says TSN’s SportsCentre anchor Kayla Grey, who weathered blowback and sparked a Twitter hashtag when she criticized white freelance journalist Sheri Forde for using the N-word in a Medium blog post that ironically detailed Forde’s efforts at building racial awareness.

“Companies and newsrooms are showing their ass right now,” says Grey, the first Black woman to anchor a national TV sports show in Canada.

“I’m seeing people fumble and it’s clear that they just don’t have those voices in those rooms that check them in the first place. Or they might have those voices in the room, they might have that representation, but are they listening clearly to those voices? And have those voices felt empowered to speak out about such issues?”

THE IMPACT ON STAFF

The National Post met condemnation both within and outside of its newsroom for several inflammatory commentaries, most notably one from Rex Murphy on June 1 that declared, “Canada is not a racist country.” The online link now features an apology for “a failure in the normal editing oversight” and points readers to a rebuttal by Financial Post writer Vanmala Subramaniam.

Nevertheless, Murphy defended the piece in another column June 16 and Post founder Conrad Black added his denials of systemic racism in columns June 20 and 27, the latter of which dismissed the current reckoning with racial injustice and systemic racism as an “official obsession” causing “an absurd displacement for other concerns.”

A few frustrated staffers began withholding bylines from their own stories shortly after that first Black column, growing to involve more as the week wore on.

Editor-in-chief Rob Roberts would not comment on the byline strike, only saying: “We stand by our columnists’ right to state their opinion.”

Phyllise Gelfand, vice-president of communications for Postmedia, says in an emailed statement that the company is revisiting its diversity and inclusion programs and that diversity training for its newsrooms will roll out “immediately.”

Daly says it would be harder to dismiss the lived experiences of Black people if they were welcomed into newsrooms and their leadership.

“Allow people of differing worldviews and differing lived experiences to coexist in a newsroom environment, and then you’re going to get a healthy newsroom,” says Daly, a TV producer for the CBC in Halifax.

Throughout a 25-year career spanning five provinces, Daly has worked at CBC, CTV and Global, plus The Canadian Press and the former QMI Agency, and says he has never had a manager of colour. He recalls just three full-time colleagues who were Black.

NEXT STEPS

In June, the CABJ penned an open letter to Corus Entertainment urging improved supports for Black voices and staff while expressing solidarity “with Black employees at Global News who have grappled with feelings of defeat” over repeated microaggressions.

That was followed last Thursday by another open letter to Corus and its Global News division signed by more than 100 hosts, producers, reporters, editors and camera operators with similar demands. “If we are to expect accountability of others, we must demand it of ourselves,” they wrote.

Corus has hired Grange’s agency, DiversiPro Inc., to review the entire organization, while its executive vice president of broadcast networks, Troy Reeb, says in a statement it’s “acting immediately” at Global News to increase representation, remove systemic barriers to retention and promotion, and consult with marginalized communities on news coverage.

Grange, who wouldn’t discuss details of the review, notes an enduring lack of diversity in the broader media industry when it comes to those who decide which stories are covered and how they’re told.

Entire communities and perspectives are at risk of being ignored or distorted when coverage is filtered through a predominantly white lens, says Daly.

And when that happens, news coverage can effectively uphold the status quo, sustain systemic barriers and actively deepen racial inequities, adds Anita Li of the Canadian Journalists of Colour.

“That’s actually bad for democracy because if people don’t see themselves reflected in the news they’re less likely to vote, to trust their neighbours, to engage civically,” says Li, whose career has included stints with CTV Ottawa, CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

These are not new problems, she adds, suggesting recent scrutiny rather than genuine insight has spurred some organizations to declare serious plans to address race-related failings.

Li notes the CABJ and CJOC issued their joint calls to action in January but the response from legacy organizations “was crickets.”

“We didn’t hear anything from them until these mass protests started happening,” she says of widespread demonstrations against anti-Black racism and police brutality.

Grange, too, says the majority of his clients have not traditionally been media. But that’s changing.

“Suddenly, we’re getting them. It’s kind of interesting.”

THE GROWING RESPONSE

Despite recent high-profile transgressions, the media industry does appear to be confronting its role in upholding white bias, says Li, pointing to emerging outlets, major media unions and larger organizations that have publicly committed to the calls to action.

She says they include the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail union, Global News, and the Walrus.

The Canadian Press says it has met with the CABJ and CJOC on the recommendations and is working to ensure it has the proper infrastructure in place to fully enact them.

“I actually feel like there’s genuine traction being made and there’s actual, candid conversations about the barriers that journalists of colour are facing,” says Li.

The conversation is long overdue at the Winnipeg Free Press, editor Paul Samyn wrote July 3 in an opinion piece titled, “An apology for marginalizing people of colour; and a promise to atone for our past.” The article admits the paper has, “at times, been part of the problem, not the solution,” while promising to better reflect and serve marginalized communities.

Measures there include the addition of four full-time reporters of colour, a special news project examining race and racism, and plans to close online commenting as of July 14 because it too-often served as a magnet for racist commentary.

Li acknowledges that dwindling ad revenues, dropping readership and fragmented audiences amid a plethora of free online competitors make it financially difficult for many outlets.

But investing in diversity and inclusion pays off in the long run, she says, noting Canada’s immigrant and racialized population is growing.

“So you’re just increasingly missing a bigger and bigger portion of Canadian society,” she says of ignoring change.

“Sooner or later these folks, these communities that are being overlooked, are going to go to alternative sources of media.”

Li encourages journalists and outlets to guard against feeling defensive when forced to acknowledge failures.

“For me it’s about calling them in, not calling them out,” says Li.

“The only way we can solve this issue is collaboratively together, with all hands on deck. It’s not just the responsibility of people of colour or journalists of colour. It’s the responsibility of the entire industry.”

Source: Calls grow for news outlets reporting on systemic racism to address own failures

Time to act on newsroom inequality

From the Star’s Public Editor:

“For years, we at The Star have talked about, sometimes in terms of despair, the need to reflect the changing nature of this city… Our coverage has not been inclusive enough. One obvious solution would be to hire more reporters and editors of all colors and cultures. New perspectives and new contacts would clearly improve the breadth and scope of our coverage.”

1995: Toronto & the Star: Report of the Diversity Committee

How can it be that a generation – a quarter century — has passed and still the Toronto Star and newsrooms throughout North America have not come to terms with the reality and repercussions of predominantly white newsrooms that look nothing like the communities they seek to serve?

Certainly, journalists at all levels of news organizations have seemingly long understood that a more diverse newsroom can provide more representative, more accurate and more complete news coverage that is necessary in a just and equitable society. Yet, after all these years, the truth of this matter is found in statements released earlier this year by the Canadian Association of Black Journalists and Canadian Journalists of Colour.

“Canadian newsrooms and media coverage are not truly representative of our country’s racial diversity. We acknowledge that journalism outlets have made efforts to address this worrying gap, but glaring racial inequity persists.”

I am not the first person to note that the brutal police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent global protests against systemic equality and for racial justice have presented journalism with something of a “#MeToo” moment – a seemingly rapid and revolutionary recognition of the need for change and broad refusal to accept the status quo of a long simmering situation.

Indeed, as Canadians confront the broader realities and repercussions of systematic anti-Black and Indigenous racism in our own country, it is well past time for a “reckoning” within journalism, a time to listen, to learn and to examine journalism’s role in the damaging prevalence of systemic racism.

As many have also made clear, this is most of all, a time for action. To its credit, the Star and its parent company, Torstar, committed this week, in a statement sent to all staff, to “taking concrete measures to address inequality, exclusion and discrimination.”

That was followed by a memo to the newsroom from Star editor Irene Gentle, who endorsed well-justified calls to action by the CABJ and CJoC that hold newsrooms to account for racial equality in Canadian media.

“Calls on behalf of Black, Indigenous and journalists of colour are founded in principles of anti-racism, justice and accountability this newsroom has long stood for in its reporting but did not live up to in its internal make-up, organization and, at times, judgment,” Gentle said. “Words don’t matter without actions and these actions can only make us a better, more fair newsroom to work in, inspire more relevant, vital journalism and help make our ideals a reality.”

In an earlier note to staff, Gentle acknowledged that the Star’s newsroom is not representative of the communities it reports on, even as its own outstanding anti-racism reporting continues to expose systemic racism within other institutions and organizations such as education and police.

“Internally, we obviously cannot ignore our own deficits,” she said. “There are historical and financial reasons for this, but that, while a fact, is not an excuse.”

Among the actions the Star and Torstar news organizations have committed to are: voluntary surveys of newsroom demographics to measure employment diversity statistics, hiring and promoting of Black and Indigenous employees and other people of colour and diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, training and mentoring of young and aspiring journalists of colour, including possible collaborations with journalism schools. Gentle also committed to establishing ongoing consultations with racialized and other communities through advisory groups.

“Some of these are underway or beginning. Others will require some time to set up and entrench,” Gentle said. “But we are committed to doing it because we, like all of you, know it is the right thing to do.”

The Star’s newsroom commitments are supported fully by the Torstar organization overall. In the memo to all staff, Torstar CEO John Boynton made clear the company “cannot just talk about appointing more committees, more task forces more study groups to look at these actions.”

“As a media company with a long history of championing equality for all, Torstar is uniquely positioned to learn from our past, to give voice to the present through our news coverage and providing opportunities in our pages and on our websites for frank, honest and open conversations about race and diversity and to help provide guidance and examples for future generations,” he said.

While I have been discouraged at knowing how long Canadian newsrooms have been talking about this issue, with so little real and necessary change happening. I am heartened by these statements of actions and our CEO’s words seeking accountability: “We will be – and we should be – held accountable for ensuring that we act. If we fail, please let us know.”

Indeed, equality and diversity are not simply “nice to have,” an exhaustive 2019 report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism on “the struggle for talent and diversity in modern newsrooms” tells us.

“More diversity and a better representation of the underlying population is not only a question of justness and fairness, it’s also a question of power, as the media still largely decide who gets to be heard in society and thus who gets to shape political and social issues,” that report states.

Within the Star, I believe there is strong understanding that this week’s commitment to action is just the beginning as we all listen to learn and understand our own roles in the perpetuation of newsroom inequity. I see need for ongoing discussion and debate among journalists, their employers and unions, people of colour from the wider community, journalism scholars and industry associations about newsrooms structures, and journalism’s practices, standards and values. Most important, as is happening throughout North America now, this time demands a rethinking about how journalism and its mission in a democracy that stands for universal human rights is defined — and more important, who defines it.

Whether we regard this moment as a reckoning or a revolution, the time for that is now.

New Zealand is a far more multicultural place today – its mainstream media is not

Similar issues in Canada and some interesting info regarding their ethnic media:

Let’s start with a test, about references to Indian people in the news. Last year, an Indian Naval crew completed the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women team, in about eight months. They had a scheduled stop-over (one of only four worldwide) in Lyttelton, Christchurch, for over two weeks in 2017. They were facilitated by the Mayor, ministers, local MPs, and the wider community.

Such a great, inspiring story for women around the world, and in New Zealand, right? But I’m sure a majority of you are reading about it in New Zealand media for the first time. By contrast, stories about the Kiwi-Indian Christchurch GP Rakesh Chawdhry, who in 2018, was found guilty of sex offences against his patients, are hard to miss. His case was, and is, extensively reported by all mainstream New Zealand media.

No one can – or should – question a newsroom’s editorial judgement on what to cover, and what not to cover on an individual story basis. But editors, and even more importantly, owners, must realise that journalism is a business with public interest at its core. And that ‘public’ in New Zealand has changed, and is now more multicultural than ever.

Recently released Census 2018 figures tell us that almost 30% of the country’s population is non-European now. If we just take the three main Asian ethnicities – Chinese, Indians, and Filipinos – two-thirds of whom live in Auckland, they make up about 25 percent of the city’s population. Nationwide, there are more than 700,000 people of Asian descent living in New Zealand.

And to my mind, the recent financial struggles of mainstream New Zealand media are partly due to a failure to acknowledge, appreciate and cater to anyone except the majority community. Apart from a token mention of celebrations such as Diwali and Chinese Lantern Festival, any coverage of multicultural communities tends to invariably be negative, if they get a mention at all.

I dare say that a business that ignores a quarter of New Zealand’s only big city – especially a business that runs on public trust and goodwill – is a recipe for financial failure. The same argument applies to the rest of the country.

I am not for a moment denying the two main reasons being put forward for the struggles of commercial media. The dominance of Google and Facebook in terms of digital advertising revenues, and the subsidisation of state-owned media organisations in New Zealand.

But it is worth adding that ignoring 30% of the population is a third and equally important reason. Google, Facebook, RNZ and TVNZ are not going anywhere, any time soon. So this third reason is really the only one within our control.

A question might be asked – ‘why should we cater to these communities, they don’t matter financially?’ This assumption is incorrect, on two counts. There is a difference in income levels – per NZ Stats June 2019 quarter figures, European median weekly income ($1,060) is almost $100 more than Asian ($959.) But this gap is reducing every year. This is partly due to the aspirational nature, and emphasis on achieving social mobility through education, in the multicultural communities.

Secondly, due to discrimination in securing a job in the New Zealand market, many migrants turn to entrepreneurship. The salaried class doesn’t bring in the same advertising revenues as the business class. So migrant businesses are where some significant untapped advertising dollars are sitting.

Don’t believe me? Attend a Meet the Press programme, which the Indian High Commission in New Zealand regularly organises. I went to one recently held in Auckland. There were more than 10 Indian-origin media organisations present – including print, radio and digital – which report in English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Gujarati, among others. There is a similar number for the local Chinese-origin media. We also have some Filipino, Korean, and Japanese publications across the country. And this number has only grown over the last decade or so.

Clearly, communities are sustaining all these publications.

Hence, the market, the audience, the stories, and the business, is all there for someone who is able to appreciate the changing nature of New Zealand, and is willing to change with it.

Mainstream news media in New Zealand is struggling because, as one CEO said, consumer behaviour is changing. What he failed to say was that the consumer itself is changing. The emerging consumer is is young, urban, earning – and increasingly multicultural.

Source: New Zealand is a far more multicultural place today – its mainstream media is not

‘Plain cruel’: Vanuatu stops newspaper chief boarding plane home after China stories

Another reminder of the influence of China:

The media director of a Vanuatu newspaper whose visa renewal was refused this month has been barred from flying home to Vanuatu from Brisbane with his partner.

Dan McGarry, who has lived in Vanuatu for 16 years, applied to have his work permit renewed earlier this year but it was rejected. McGarry believes his visa was refused due to articles he had published about China’s influence in Vanuatu.

In July the Daily Post broke the story of Vanuatu deporting six Chinese nationals – four of whom had obtained Vanuatu citizenship – without due process or access to legal counsel.

McGarry said he was “quite confident” it was that series of reports which had upset the government.

McGarry, who is Canadian, left the country to attend a forum in Brisbane on media freedom in Melanesia, at which leading journalists and the editors from the region spoke about attacks on journalistic freedom in the region and discussed his case in detail.

The parties went negative, and the media enabled them

Good reflections on election coverage:

It is hard for outsiders to understand how gruelling, exhilarating, exciting, frustrating and physically demanding it can be for journalists covering an election. In the modern multi-media, multi-tasking universe in which journalists live, reporters on campaign planes may be tweeting, doing live interviews and writing several stories in the course of 18-hour days, often eating crappy food at irregular hours without proper exercise and with inadequate sleep. All while trying to be fair and accurate. On election night, columnists like the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert and the National Post’s Andrew Coyne were writing their pieces for the next day’s papers while simultaneously appearing on live TV shows.

Ordinary reporters broke stories in this campaign and exhaustively documented the statements of the leaders. Analysts and commentators took apart the platforms. And despite what you may have thought or heard, they collectively produced reams of copy on policy issues. Every time I saw someone complaining that no one was writing about some specific issue, I went online and found deeply reported stories. There were policy pieces on housing affordability and the dependency ratio, and examinations of party platforms on child care and the environment, just to offer a few examples.

But for all the individual excellence and all the expenditure of energy and intellectual capital from journalists, this was a deeply dissatisfying election for many Canadians, and the media played a part in that.

First, let’s be clear. Despite talk that the mainstream media have been displaced by social media, they continue to play a dominant role in the way most Canadians experience a campaign. More than half of Canadians relied on the evening national TV news to form their views on the election, according to a survey by Abacus Data. That was followed by talk radio. Both of these old-fashioned news sources were ahead of social media, as was the influence of “family and friends.”

Not surprisingly, the picture was quite different when it came to the youngest cohort, those 18-29 years of age. For them, the most important source of election information was not social media, though, but family and friends. True, social media were more important to this group than mainstream media; nonetheless, TV news, talk radio and newspapers were all important sources of election information for more than 40 percent of them. What this suggests is that the grip of the mainstream media might continue to diminish over time, but the day of its irrelevance has surely not yet come.

So, the coverage mattered. And the coverage, certainly as it was experienced by many voters, was predominantly negative. We have some interesting data on this from Greg Lyle at Innovative Research Group. He asked respondents mid-campaign whether they had read, seen or heard anything in recent days about each leader. Among those who had heard anything about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, they said it led them to think less favourably of him by a margin of two-to-one. Almost precisely the same was true of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

This is very much in keeping with the unprecedently negative tone of the entire 2019 campaign in which both major parties trended down in the polls and which produced a government with the lowest-ever share of the popular vote.

Like any campaign, so much happened in such a short time that it can be easy to forget the way it began. In the first few days after the writ was dropped, it felt like a formless void, a space without narrative. And this was a vacuum that was gleefully filled by the Liberal war room. The Liberals had obviously accumulated a little video storehouse of horrors: Conservative candidates saying controversial or outright offensive things on abortion, Quebec, homosexuality and race. In that first week, they dropped bits of what they had found onto social media with deliberate menace just hours before Scheer made campaign appearances with particular candidates.

They did this before Scheer appeared with Rachel Willson in York-Centre (her call for anti-abortion legislation). Boom! When he was about to appear with Arpan Khanna in Brampton North (his homophobic Facebook posts). Boom! When he was on his way to see Justina McCaffrey in Kanata-Carleton (her friendship with far-right commentator Faith Goldy). Boom! (Each of these candidates ultimately lost, by the way.)

So, it was the Liberals, not the media, who set the tone of the campaign in its first week. Gloomy Ways! But they did so by performing a sort of hack on the media, exploiting their weakness for novelty and tension. Because it was in video form, it took little or no effort to verify on the fly.

What reporter rushing to a constituency event where the less-than-electric Scheer was slated to address some small-bore policy idea recycled from Harper 2015 could resist the lure of the video the Liberals had just dropped on Twitter? Particularly when the Tory candidate obliged the Liberal war room by running away from the camera, as Justina McCaffrey did.

So, the media did not set the tone, but their weakness for a particular kind of story enabled and amplified it. This kept everyone occupied until that blackface photo appeared on Time’s website, giving Justin Trudeau his time in the barrel (and forcing the Liberals to cage in the residents of their war room for a while). Two weeks later, though, the media dug up information about Andrew Scheer’s resumé and then his citizenship, swinging the narrative back to him.

Of course, the media are not helpless in the face of the narratives that campaigns present any more than the parties themselves are. Indeed, every day is a struggle among the parties themselves and between them and the media to decide what the election should be about. On the very first day of the campaign, the Globe and Mail dropped a story on the RCMP looking into the SNC-Lavalin affair that the paper may have hoped would set the frame for the entire campaign. It did set the frame, but for only a day. Later it seemed plain that many people in the media expected the blackface controversy to dominate the rest of the campaign, until it seemed it had not made much of a dent in the Liberals’ polls, at which point they moved on.

Neither of those narratives would have elevated the tone of the election campaign, it has to be said. You could argue in contrast that the Toronto Star strove admirably to frame the election around climate change, which if you believe is real, as I do, is surely as worthy a subject to debate at election time as free trade in 1988 or cutting the GST in 2006. The Star published a series of vividly reported stories that helped remind those who read them of the stakes if we do not act. But it was Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s journey to North America that raised the profile of the issue in the media more generally, at least for a week, along with an assist from the Liberals on the hustings anxious to move on from blackface. But then climate change, too, faded into the cacophony.

In the last week, it was the most familiar of media narratives that dominated: who is ahead in the polls; can anyone get a majority; if not, who will play with whom in the new Parliament? This emptied the election of most of its policy content and opened up a mostly negative conversation among the parties about which voters should fear the most. Should we be more afraid of Liberal/NDP profligacy or of Conservative budget cuts?

It would be wrong to say that the media alone were responsible for the negativity of this campaign. What we witnessed was rather a cycle, much of it beginning with the parties themselves, turbo-charged by the media, spun through social media, then picked up again and further amplified by the politicians. This cycle could have been broken had the parties presented big ideas or divided more clearly on issues of principle or policy, but for the most part they chose not to. And there were signs of resistance in the media — reporters and columnists who worked mightily to bring us back to what mattered, or should matter: climate change, the economy, taxes and deficit, systemic racism, the scandal of the condition of Indigenous people, foreign policy even. But in the end, all their efforts to save us from this dismal election were in vain.

Source: The parties went negative, and the media enabled them

Canadian media lacks nuance, depth on racial issues

Part of the Policy Options elections series. I have flagged to Anita Li, some of the weaknesses in her arguments:

  • Voter turnout: StatsCan analysis comparing Canadian-born versus long-term and recent immigrants in the 2015 and 2011 elections shows that the gap has shrunk (2007 data not relevant).
  • 2011:  77.4 percent Canadian-born, 70.7 percent established immigrants, 55.7 percent recent immigrants
  • 2015: 76 percent Canadian-born, 75.9 percent established immigrants, 70.1 percent recent immigrants
  • There is considerable variation based upon country of origin.

My sense is that the issue lies more with the financial and business model of media, and consequent reduced local and other news, which applies to all Canadians, whether visible minority or not.

My work with diversityvotes.ca which allows me to analyze ethnic media election coverage indicates that ethnic media is less ghettoized than Li suggests, largely mirroring mainstream coverage (spoiler alert for future article).

As to the diversity of journalists, given the number of visible minorities in j-schools and the buy-outs of senior journalists, expect that diversity will improve but not as quickly given the financial struggles of the industry:

Newsrooms in Canada are disproportionately white. This inequity means Canadian news coverage is less inclusive and therefore not truly representative of our country’s racial diversity. We’ve known all this for years, and still — despite the approach of the next federal election — establishment journalism organizations have not taken steps to address this worrying gap in a meaningful and systemic way. One consequence is lower voter turnout among people of colour.

The media is a pillar of democracy. Numerous studies reveal how an erosion in local news weakens civic engagement. Research suggests people who consume local news regularly are more likely to vote and participate in civic activities. But the spate of local publication closures in nearly 200 Canadian communities over the past decade has left a vacuum for misinformation to fill, compromised journalists’ ability to hold government accountable and resulted in more polarized communities where neighbours don’t trust each other.

These studies focus on geographic communities. But there’s scant research into how news poverty impacts racialized communities or geographic communities that are majority-minority, such as Scarborough, a suburb of more than 600,000 in the Greater Toronto Area where people of colour make up 73 percent of the total population. That’s concerning.

Why? According to a 2018 report from the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, news deserts tend to be around areas whose residents are poorer, less well-educated and older than people in other communities. News poverty impacts inner-city neighbourhoods and suburbs as well as sparsely populated rural and interior regions, the report says.

It’s not a stretch to extrapolate findings from geographically focused research on news deserts and apply them to underserved racialized communities. If you don’t see yourself reflected in the news, and you don’t see the connection between your community and policy issues, how motivated would you be to vote? How convinced would you be that you could effect change in your country — especially if the media rarely bothers to portray your perspective?

Of course, as many detractors of diversity and inclusion efforts have commonly but pointlessly argued, ethnic groups are not monolithic and have a diversity of thought, and race is just one pillar of a person’s identity. But few markers of identity are visible beyond race, and systemic racism is pervasive in Canada. Members of particular ethnic groups, especially visible-minority groups, will have shared experiences by virtue of their skin colour.

Ethnic media doesn’t even reflect citizens like me, a second-generation Canadian-born Chinese whose native language is English. To me, ethnic media is for my immigrant parents’ generation, not my friends and peers who grew up here.

There are ethnic media outlets in Canada, but they’re ghettoized in a two-tier system, where establishment media is seen as more legitimate and also seemingly absolved of covering issues that matter to immigrant Canadians in an in-depth way. Beyond that, ethnic media doesn’t even reflect citizens like me, a second-generation Canadian-born Chinese whose native language is English. To me, ethnic media is for my immigrant parents’ generation, not my friends and peers who grew up here. Unfortunately, these two audiences have been traditionally conflated, so there’s a gaping hole where news coverage should be for young, diverse Canadians.

Keeping this lack of relevant media presence and Canada’s long history of excluding people of colour from voting in mind, it’s no wonder eligible voters from some non-European communities have voted at lower rates than members of European communities, according to a 2007 Elections Canada study. Citing data from the Ethnic Diversity Survey of Statistics Canada, Elections Canada also reports that rates of voter participation are higher among foreign-born than Canadian-born people of colour.

Low voter turnout among people of colour will become a bigger problem for Canada if we don’t address it soon. StatsCan reports that among the country’s working-age population (ages 15 to 64), 20 percent identified themselves as “visible minority” in 2011 — a number that could double to nearly 40 percent by 2036.

When it comes to authentic pluralism, there’s a significant disconnect between how Canada perceives and portrays itself and what’s actually happening in this country.

Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy, in 1971, and it’s globally recognized as an arbiter of pluralism, so we tend to rest on our laurels regarding issues of race. It’s why, for so long, neither government nor the media seriously grappled with the country’s evolving cultural identity. Because there’s a sense that we’ve “achieved” multiculturalism in theory, Canadian political and media institutions are complacent and don’t frequently entertain conversations about our evolving cultural identity — much less move them forward. When it comes to authentic pluralism, there’s a significant disconnect between how Canada perceives and portrays itself and what’s actually happening in this country.

The 1971 Canadian Multiculturalism Policy and subsequent 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which came about after Canada became the first country in the world to pass a national multiculturalism law, were significant milestones. But they’ve had the sanitizing effect of falsely casting us as a perfect multicultural haven and as a foil to our unstable neighbour, America, with its unmanageable race problems.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, we’re far behind the United States in our discussions of race in the public sphere. Despite the extreme polarization in America, there’s an institutional and public willingness to talk about these issues that opens up dialogue and breaks down barriers. In Canada, we ignore the problem, so silos persist. In addition, this false sense that Canada is post-racial often has the effect of gaslighting people from racialized communities who continue to face discrimination today.

Given our British colonial past, Canada has a long history of defining its identity in terms of how un-American we are, so we resist embracing our neighbour’s practices for fear of surrendering to American cultural hegemony. But what is Canadian culture? Before the Second World War, it was synonymous with British and French culture, but that perception failed to take into account the tens of thousands of years of Indigenous cultures that predated Canada’s colonization. In fact, we didn’t have a clear, unified national identity of our own until after the war — and even now, it’s not one that all Canadians have embraced.

When it comes to filling in gaps in coverage for racialized communities in Canada, outlets here would be wise to follow in American media’s footsteps. Resistance to including these other narratives will only push Canadians into the arms of US publications — which have much more robust coverage of people of colour — and, ironically, put Canada on a path toward greater American cultural influence. We must evolve.

With Canada facing a rising populist tide and the incendiary language that tends to come with it, October’s election is an opportunity for all Canadian media to call things as they are. For example, journalists shouldn’t use “racially charged” or similar euphemisms when “racist” is more appropriate. The values underpinning multiculturalism are enshrined in our Constitution under section 27, so rather than seeking “balance,” the media must hold our leaders to account by challenging views and policies that are unconstitutional. The world, including Canada, is experiencing a historic moment that necessitates adversarial watchdog journalism.

The media should also move beyond reactive coverage of race that stokes outrage for outrage’s sake. Instead of a “he said, she said” style of reporting, journalists should provide context that breaks down Canada’s history of systemic racism and analyze how party policies will affect specific racialized communities (for example, they should examine why Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change).

Outside of the election, the media should strive to capture the lived experiences of Canadians of colour (which, it’s important to note, are quite different from the experiences of Americans of colour). They should also keep up their recent increase in coverage of reconciliation and Canada’s Black Lives Matter movement. But I don’t want to see only stories of outrage — they paint a limited, black-and-white picture of racialized communities. I also want to see the nuanced spaces in between, where most people of colour live their lives: an intersectional take on climate change in Canada through a racial justice lens; a look at the historical contributions of Canadians of colour and how they impact us today; a deep dive into how second-generation Canadians are preserving their ancestors’ dying languages.

The media here must stop talking about Canada as if it’s an Anglo monoculture and start reflecting the multiculturalism that we proudly lay claim to but seldom live up to.

Source: Canadian media lacks nuance, depth on racial issues

Domise: Who gets to be a ‘teen’ and a ‘good kid’?

Worth reflecting on:

For a very long time, I’ve been of the mind that corporal punishment is detrimental for black children, and should be discouraged. Many in the Caribbean community would likely disagree; spare the rod, spoil the child is an axiom I learned from elders long before I first read its source quote in the Book of Proverbs. But it never sat well with me that black children, faced with a world that would capriciously limit their opportunities, fling them into the maw of the criminal justice system, and justify their murder at the hands of police and vigilantes, should come home—their only refuge against a world that fears and misunderstands them—only to be faced with more harsh discipline.

In her recent book Spare the Kids, journalist, anti-spanking advocate and Morgan State University professor Dr. Stacey Patton draws a solid line between corporal punishment and the violence of western colonialism, slavery, and genocide. The harsh treatment of white children endemic in Europe, Patton argues, gave way to a widespread belief in the innocence of children that stigmatized use of “cat-o’-nine-tails, shovels, canes, iron rods and sticks” in the 19th century.

In place of such punishment, which often resulted in infanticide, and wasn’t prosecuted for a long time, came the manual discipline we refer to today as spanking. “In other words,” writes Patton, “white people began to recognize the vulnerability of their own children and had to rescue them, if only partially, from this unthinkable close proximity to blackness and the brutality of childhood.”

For the African-descended and Indigenous people of the Americas, regarded as the most savage and therefore childlike members of the human race, the concept of childhood carries a much different import. All punishments allotted to them—floggings, rape, torture and murder—were not considered wanton violence, but instead the loving attempt of the white patriarch to drive savagery out of their bodies and instill the values of civilization. This belief, that black and Indigenous peoples must be refined through the disciplining of their bodies and minds, has lingered in the white psyche long after the emancipation of black people, and the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty.

It is a belief that white people, as humanity’s patriarchs, have a responsibility to discipline humanity’s children.

This belief is why the words “boy” and “girl” can become slurs when they slide off the white tongue, directed at grown adults. Meanwhile, our children are stamped from birth with the stigma of maturity; plenty of studies exist to show that our children are viewed as older and less innocent by teachers, police and other authority figures who are, by the oaths they take and the titles they wear, supposed to be children’s protectors.

This has tainted racialized communities with a social paradox that quickly ages children out of childhood in order to strip from them the aegis of innocence, yet also infantilizes our adults in order to subordinate them to white hegemony. Thus, acting in loco parentis, the brutality visited on racialized adults and children alike by authority figures—our schools, police, court systems—is not seen as cruel and unjust violence, but instead as a form of socialized corporal punishment, birthed by colonialism and nurtured institutions—our political class and mass media—which function as vestiges of white patriarchal hegemony.

The acceptance of this socialized corporal punishment, by white authority figures, is why Eric Casebolt (then a McKinney, Texas police officer) can throw a black child through the air, drag her by the hair, and slam her to the ground, and not only will he not be charged with a crime, a prominent white news anchor will comment “The girl was no saint, either.” It’s how former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann can jump out of a police cruiser and summarily execute 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and have his actions covered by a municipality that blames Rice for failing to “exercise due care to avoid injury.” And it’s also how an all-white jury can acquit Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley of second-degree murder, even after Stanley admitted to aiming a handgun at Cree youth Colten Boushie and pulling the trigger.

Spare the rod and spoil the child. If there is no child to be found behind those savage eyes, then put down a threat.

On the other hand, white youth who commit atrocities in the name of white nationalism are not only draped in the innocence of childhood from birth, but are covered by its long tails into adulthood.

Consider the case of Kam McLeod and Bryan Schmegelsky, two young white men from Port Alberni, British Columbia, who are currently the subjects of a nationwide manhunt. Early on, when their disappearance shifted from missing teenagers to murder suspects, news media continued referring to them as “teens” and uncritically ran pull-quotes from community members who called them “boys.”

To be clear, these “boys,” 18 and 19 respectively, are not only prime suspects in the murders of three people, but Schmegelsky is alleged to have uttered violent threats to his classmates, and have a fascination with neo-Nazi imagery and organizations. Yet, their families have been offered uncritical coverage in Canadian news: McLeod’s father describing him as “kind, considerate and caring,” and Schmegelsky’s father describing his son as “a child in some very serious pain.”

Not long after McLeod and Schmegelsky’s alleged killings, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, of Gilroy, California, armed himself with a legally purchased AK-47 variant rifle, and opened fire at a local town festival. Three people were killed, two of them children, and another 12 people were injured by gunfire. Though Legan was himself killed in a shootout with police, and was found to have posted links to a white supremacist manifesto on one of his social media pages, he was—rather amazingly—described in a tweet by South Carolina-based The Greenville News as “a quiet teen who stayed out of trouble.”

The infantilizing and innocence-jacketing of white murderers and murder suspects is part and parcel of a long tradition; the childhood of New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant (aged 28) was given an extensive profile by Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, Dylann Roof (aged 21) was described as a “sweet kid” corrupted by “internet evil” in coverage after his arrest, and was even brought a Burger King meal by police while in custody. Twenty-two-year-old Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger’s “happy childhood” in England was covered by The Guardian, and it took years to debunk the myth that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the mass shooters at Columbine (aged 17 and 18 respectively), were lonely kids retaliating for a lengthy history of being bullied in school.

Rather than harsh social discipline, young white men who commit these heinous acts are faced with a society endlessly devoted to making sense of their crimes. Behind that, I believe, is a motivation to understand how white children brought up according to plan, and kept safe from exposure to socially corrupting elements—drugs, crime, pornography—could regress so drastically from civilization to savagery. Racialized children, on the other hand, are born into stigma and need no such understanding or explanation. Their already and always existing predisposition for delinquent behavior requires purging from their bodies, and if they happen to be injured or die in the process, well, they should have exercised due care.

I have no doubt that, when Schmegelsky and McLeod are finally apprehended, plenty of coverage will be devoted to figuring out where these young men went wrong. I also have no doubt that, even in the face of glaring evidence that white mass shooters are working from a well-established ideology that requires the removal—if not extermination—of non-white races for a harmonious society, plenty of coverage will be devoted to missing that point.

What I do doubt, however, is that the broader conversation on mass killings will land on the relationship between white supremacy and the power it grants white people (white men in particular) to inflict brutality on others, as well as the logics to justify it.  The social agreement to infantilize spree killers after they’ve passed into adulthood is only one factor in a broader environment of racialized patriarchy; one that warps them in to believing they are acting as soldiers in a race war, and every murder they commit, even against other white people (whom they often deem to be enablers of race-mixing and demographic replacement) is a swing of the rod for the good of society.

And this is why I believe corporal punishment inside the home to have such a damaging effect on black children. A world which grants them no childhood, no innocence, and no protection from physical harm against the people who believe they are entrusted with the responsibility to purge the world from the perceived savagery of our races, well, that’s a harsh enough world already. At the very least, they should find safe shelter from that world with their families, and inside their homes.

Source: Who gets to be a ‘teen’ and a ‘good kid’?

Media Coverage of Anti-Semitism, Racism Rise in Trump Era

Interesting media analysis, particularly the differences and absence of differences between coverage under the Obama and Trump administrations:

President Trump generated an uproar this week with his widely condemned comments regarding four Democratic lawmakers of color, coupled with a campaign rally in which attendees chanted “Send her back!” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar. A closer look at media coverage of the congresswoman’s own anti-Semitic comments earlier this year raises the question of whether the current uproar will pass with as little long-term impact. Answering that may hinge on whether the media finds a new Trump angle to focus on.

Looking back over the past decade, the timeline below shows the percentage of airtime by month on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News that mentioned “racism” or “racist” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archiveprocessed by the GDELT Project.

From September 2010 to May 2013 there was a marked silent period in which mentions of racism largely disappeared from all three news channels. The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin in July 2013 appears to have restarted the national conversation around race. This week’s remarks by Trump appear to have sparked the most attention to the topic of the past decade.

Notably, there does not appear to be any meaningful change in mentions of racism between Obama and Trump’s presidencies.

In contrast, coverage of anti-Semitism does appear to have increased sharply during Trump’s term. The timeline below shows coverage over the past decade that mentioned the words “anti-Semitism” or “anti-Semitic” or “antisemitism” or “antisemitic.”

The topic attracted almost no attention during Obama’s presidency, but has received several bursts of coverage since Trump’s July 2016 “Star of David” Clinton tweet first prompted accusations of anti-Semitism. Interestingly, Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitic tweets in March 2019 received far less attention, with Fox News covering them more than CNN and MSNBC combined.

In each case, the story faded within a week. Looking at the broader topic of discrimination, the timeline below shows coverage mentioning “discrimination” or “discriminatory” or “discriminated” or “discriminating.”

Beginning July 2015, the month after Trump declared his candidacy, coverage of discrimination largely disappeared from all three channels and has remained far below Obama-era levels through the present. It is unclear what may be driving this shift, since anti-Semitism coverage has increased, but coverage of racism remains unchanged.

One possibility is that the stations have devoted so much of their airtime to Trump over the past four years, with just over 9% of their total airtime mentioning his name thus far this month.

Looking more closely at the timeline above, the fact that Trump’s media profile has been steadily shrinking could also help explain his attack on the four Democrats. Trump has a long history of adopting controversial and media-genic stances in periods of declining media coverage as a way to boost attention.

Putting this all together, it is likely that just as Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks this past March faded from interest within a week, so too will the media move on from Trump’s remarks this week.

RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.

Source: Media Coverage of Anti-Semitism, Racism Rise in Trump Era

Most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative, major study finds

Not unique to the UK, both in terms of coverage and which outlets have greater negative focus:

Most coverage of Muslims in British news outlets has a negative slant, according to a major analysis by the Muslim Council of Britain, which concludes that news stories in the mainstream media are contributing to Islamophobia.

The study found the Mail on Sunday had the most negative coverage of Islam, with 78% of its stories featuring Muslims having negative themes – above an already-high industry average of 59%.

The New Statesman, Observer and Guardian were the least likely to portray Muslims in a negative light, according to the analysis of 11,000 articles and news broadcasts during the final three months of last year.

The findings come amid growing scrutiny of Islamophobia in the Conservative party and whether its roots lie in rightwing media coverage. A YouGov poll of Tory members by the campaign group Hope Not Hate found that 60% believe “Islam is generally a threat to western civilisation” and more than half believe “Islam is generally a threat to the British way of life”.

Source: Most UK news coverage of Muslims is negative, major study finds