Who's Telling The News? Racial Representation Among News Gatherers in Canada's Daily Newsrooms

Prof. John Miller
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Canada is the first nation in the world to enshrine official multiculturalism in its constitution. Twenty years later, multiculturalism helps define the country's national identity in the eyes of the world. But not all institutions have contributed equally to what one academic hopefully calls "the multicultural reconstruction of Canadian society." One such institution is the country's 102 daily newspapers, which millions of Canadians rely on to be their windows on social change. Public awareness of issues related to social cohesion relies on fair, accurate and inclusive coverage by the media. So who's telling the news? In summer, 2004, managing editors at 37 Canadian daily newspapers provided demographic data on their newsgathering staffs. This "census" focused on racial minorities and women. The data was compared to a similar survey in 1994, when the diversity of Canada's population was much lower. The findings of the 2004 survey shows that racial minorities are more than five times under-represented in daily newsrooms. Moreover, the commitment of editors to change their hiring patterns has declined, not risen, in 10 years. This study addresses what other academics have identified as a neglected area of research. The misrepresentation of non-whites in news coverage has been well documented; less so has the racial representation of those who report and edit the news. The findings of this study raise important issues for social cohesion in a country that is heavily reliant on immigration and highly committed to building a multicultural society.

Keywords: Newspapers, Canada, Racial minorities, Aboriginals, Demographics, Representation, Social cohesion
Stream: Representations: Media, Communications, Arts, Literature
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Who's Telling The News?

Prof. John Miller

Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University

Miller is professor of journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and a former news executive with the Toronto Star. His book Yesterday's News (Fernwood, 1998) critiqued Canada's daily newspapers and focused on how out of touch they are with their audience. His research has focused on diversity, and he was recognized with the 2003 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. In 1994 he did the first diversity census of Canada's daily newsrooms. He repeated it this year. He has also published three other diversity research projects through the Canadian Newspaper Association and has conducted diversity news training for journalists in CTV television newsrooms.

Ref: D05P0185