by Our National Correspondent
Prof. April Lindgren (picture at right) of Ryerson University has made a name for herself studying ethnic media in Canada for many years. Late last year, she completed a study focused on Brampton, titled “Municipal Communication Strategies and Ethnic Media: A Settlement Service in Disguise”, which examined the kind of steps taken by the city to reach out to its immigrant population.
This research was a follow up to a 2007 study that found Brampton unresponsive to the needs of its immigrant community. New Canadian Media first reported on the latest study here – Ethnic Media Demand More from City of Brampton.
Q. What was the goal of this study?
Research that was done about a decade ago found that Brampton was quite unresponsive to the needs of its increasingly diverse population. But in 2015 City Council approved an ethnic media pilot project that was probably the most pro-active in the country. This study investigates the reasons for the dramatic shift in approach.
Q. What were your main findings?
Over the years the City of Brampton did make some limited attempts to use ethnic media to reach out to its newest residents, the vast majority of whom are Punjabi-speaking immigrants. In 2007, for instance, it began including ethnic media outlets on its list of media the receive the municipality’s English-language press releases. Our research concluded that this approach didn’t have much of an impact. When we looked at the content of the Brampton-based Punjabi Post daily newspaper over three weeks in 2011, only three of the 157 articles dealing with Brampton had anything to do with City Hall-related issues.
In 2013, the city made another attempt to get municipal news and information out to residents via ethnic media by hiring a specialty media coordinator who speaks and reads Punjabi. Then in 2015 things changed dramatically. That’s when City Councillors approved significant funding to translate Brampton’s media releases into French as well as the three most commonly spoken languages after English – Punjabi, Urdu and Portuguese.
There were a number of reasons for this shift. First, there was growing evidence of tension between long-term residents and the city’s rapidly expanding Punjabi-speaking population. This pointed to the need for better intercultural understanding. In terms of reaching out to immigrants, improving the availability of city news and information through ethnic media is one way to help people – particularly people who aren’t fluent in English – to better understand what is going on in the city as a whole. It’s also a way to help people understand the values and priorities of their adopted place.
The election of a new mayor and many new Councillors during the 2014 municipal election was the second important reason for the shift in attitude. Unlike their predecessors, these municipal politicians thought the City did have an important role to play in reaching out to newcomers and making them feel part of the city.
The jury is still out on whether ethnic media will carry more City Hall related news now that the press releases are being translated. The pilot project is ongoing and the results will be of great interest to other municipalities. In the interim, though, I argue that the very act of reaching out to news outlets that cover ethnic communities is symbolically important for Brampton’s multicultural population. It acknowledges the importance of those media outlets as community institutions and it recognizes the city’s obligation to communicate decisions and policies to all citizens.
Q. Your study on Brampton specifically points to several limitations and drawbacks in the way ethnic media go about the profession of journalism. How do we as a multicultural society address this?
Brampton City officials ran into situations over the years where some ethnic media publishers linked the amount of City Hall coverage they were willing to publish to the amount of advertising the City purchased. This is obviously an ethical issue that compromises the integrity of news coverage. In some cases the problem is that publishers may not have a lot of background in journalism and therefore they don’t realize how such practices potentially undermine confidence in their publications. This is a situation where education and professional training can probably make at least some difference. This education and training should make the point that the long-term survival of any news media outlet depends on public faith in the integrity of the news coverage.
Q. Your content analysis suggests that ethnic media have a different "news agenda" than the mainstream media. Can you elaborate on this?
Ethnic media often do have a different news agenda and rightly so. Their competitive advantage is in telling stories about people, places and events in their community that are not covered by mainstream news media. I would argue, though, that ethnic news outlets could and should cast a wider net, that is, they should be covering more general news in a way that is relevant and useful to their audiences. Is the city planning to increase property taxes? That affects new immigrant homeowners too. Why not talk to them about the planned increase and provide a forum for their voices to be heard? In this way, newcomers get to participate in the city-wide debate. Coverage of this sort will also increase the odds that local politicians pay attention. In this way immigrant/newcomer communities can influence municipal decisions that affect them.
Q. Based on this comprehensive study of ethnic media in an immigrant-rich market such as Brampton, how do you think ethnic media can better serve readers/viewers while still making a profit by keeping editorial costs down?
There is no silver bullet or single solution. One strategy would be to invite citizen experts from the ethnic community to write or talk about issues that affect people in that immigrant group. During tax season, for instance, why not ask a tax expert from the ethnic community you cover to do a newspaper Q and A or appear on a radio call-in show to talk about income tax filing? Ask a teacher from the community to write about why it’s important for parents to attend parent-teacher meetings and what happens at these meetings. Recruit a young, recent immigrant to recount what it’s like to navigate a Canadian high school or university. Highlighting community voices and providing useful, interesting information of this sort is a way to turn the media outlet into essential viewing, listening or reading – in other words it can build audience. And the bigger the audience the more attractive the media outlet is to advertisers.
This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to email@example.com
This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Our National Correspondent
July 30 marked the 11th anniversary of the Patriotic Vanguard newspaper published from Vancouver. In our continuing effort to profile and work with ethnic media across Canada, New Canadian Media conducted an interview by e-mail with the paper's founder and chief executive officer, Gibril Gbanabome Koroma, a Sierra Leonean journalist in exile. Koroma is pictured at right, in front of the Vancouver Public Library.
This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to email@example.com
by Marcus Medford in Toronto
Journalism students say they find value in learning how to report on immigration and race issues. Many would like to see more specialized courses focused on diversity and inclusive reporting.
“There’s never been a time in my life when this has been more important,” says second-year journalism student from the University of Toronto, Tijuana Turner, referring to the current refugee situation and Justin Trudeau pledging to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada.
“For example, describing it as a ‘flood’ of refugees isn’t okay when most people associate a flood with disaster,” she explains.
Turner moved to Canada from Jamaica two years ago to study at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus (UTSC). She says the course “Covering Immigration and Transnational Issues” offered at UTSC, which teaches students to analyze news coverage, has helped raise her awareness.
The course includes material on how media outlets frame stories related to race and immigration and how these frames can shape people’s perspective. Before taking it, certain things went over Turner’s head, she explains, but she’s become more critical.
“You shouldn’t start by saying ‘Refugee Tom...’ That's not inclusion, that’s ‘us vs. them.’ You should try saying, ‘Tom, who is a refugee,’” Turner explains.
Teaching critical journalism
datejie green is the Asper Fellow of Media at Western University and a lecturer at UTSC.
green teaches “Critical Journalism”, which she describes as a “mobilizing, embodied, intersectional approach to journalism” meant to give students a fresh set of eyes to critically engage journalism. The course examines how media cultures address gender, ability, class, sexuality and race.
“We want to learn about intersectional ways of thinking and mobilize that critical analysis to make sense of everything and write respectfully,” green shares. “These are not static, abstract ideas that we learn and leave in classrooms; these are things journalists need to have at their disposal.”
Class discussions involve examining the impact and importance of perspective in media. green’s objective is to cross cultural divides in a humanizing way. She says she is open with students about her experiences – as a woman, as someone who’s black, lives with mental illness and is a lesbian – and how it relates to perspective.
“That shouldn’t detract from my validity as a journalist or a teacher; it’s just a frame. But it allows me to explain how my body is experienced, why and what’s the impact,” green explains.
Fatima Al-Sayed is a second-year journalism student in green's class. She says the course is “extremely important” because students become aware of different perspectives, which helps journalists “not to write from pre-conceived ideas or ignorance.”
“As a woman who wears a hijab, I know the image the media portrays of me because it’s my day-to-day life,” Al-Sayed explains. “I feel like my role in journalism is to change that perspective, but I can’t if I get pulled into that kind of thinking.”
Integrating diversity lessons throughout j-school
Specialized courses aren’t the only way to teach these concepts in journalism school. At Langara College in British Columbia, lessons about perspective and diversity are integrated into every course, explains Frances Bula, chair of the journalism program.
Bula says that in addition to having classrooms and newsrooms that are ethnically diverse, it’s crucial for students to understand the importance of diversifying their sources.
“From day one, we talk about the importance of diversity and the dangers of getting too comfortable talking with people from a similar age, gender, race, or income background,” Bula explains.
Journalists should also look to groups who may not have access to the media or may not speak perfect English, Bula adds.
Petti “Peg” Fong, the assistant department chair at Langara, says courses solely about reporting on race and ethnicity aren’t necessary for journalism students.
She adds, though, that it’s important for students to understand that audiences and sources come from all different backgrounds to help prevent stereotypes being perpetuated by the media. This is taught throughout other courses, she explains.
Students’ role in addressing media bias
A study from Australia noted that negative and stereotypical coverage of Muslims can foster alienation, which plays into the hands of extremists, says Brad Clark, the journalism and broadcasting chair at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Clark did his doctoral dissertation on representations of ethno-cultural minorities in Canadian media.
Clark says that news gathering should be more inclusive, especially stories that focus on specific communities, or else it runs the risk of stereotyping and misrepresenting.
He also says that journalism students can play an important role in addressing implicit biases of mainstream media.
“They must be allowed to influence news gathering when it strays into the realm of the stereotypic,” he says. “Students need to understand that sometimes it is OK to explore the experience of race, that talking about race isn’t the same as being racist.”
These issues have become increasingly relevant for j-school students to explore, says Lysia Filotas, a second-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa. Carleton, like Langara doesn’t have a course dedicated to reporting on race and ethnicity, but incorporates it in lessons, something Filotas finds valuable.
“As a reporter, it’s important to learn how these topics colour one’s world views and how not to project that onto someone else during the interview and writing process,” she explains.
Commentary by Natalya Chernova in Toronto
On Friday, Mar. 4, I attended the 18th National Metropolis Conference, hungry for new information and curious to find out whether my area of expertise – ethnic media – was covered.
The forum subtitled “Getting Results: Migration, Opportunities and Good Governance” welcomed researchers, policy makers, community and government representatives from all over Canada to exchange experience and ideas on the issues of immigration, settlement and integration.
Among diverse topics presented were recent statistics and migration trends, personal experiences and professional observations of the immigration policies, labour issues and programs, academic studies on family integration and even happiness levels among recent immigrants.
All these sessions painted a clear and colourful picture of Canada’s immigration future – steady, progressive growth of the number of new immigrants with diverse ethnic backgrounds and diverse personal and professional needs. Among those needs are information and a sense of community – key components of what the ethnic media provides.
A significant tool for outreach
Integration and inclusion, also part of the ethnic media’s role, were some of the most discussed issues that day, with Yolande James, former Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities of the Government of Quebec, summarizing it with a statement that “governments must create an engaging environment where immigrants can reach their full potential”.
The common agreement among the presenters though was that governments have not yet done enough to establish the level of support that would allow immigrants feel fully accepted and integrate easily into Canadian society.
In addition, Canadian Refugee and Immigration Lawyer El-Farouk Khaki noted that the second and third generations of racialized immigrants generally tend to be closer to their ethnic groups than the first generation. “The more discrimination people face, the closer they feel to their ethnic groups.”
However, despite a common understanding of increasing immigration trends and the impact of ethnic communities on newcomers’ integration experience, surprisingly no presentations or workshops mentioned the role of the ethnic, multilingual media in new immigrants’ lives.
As part of a team of ethnic media consultants, I see stories on immigration, integration, education and legal issues, labour, health and safety, immigrant challenges and struggles every day, and yet ethnic media seems not to be on the radar of policy makers and service providers as one of the most valuable resources on immigration they can find.
Following the ethnic media would seem to be a significant part of the outreach equation of what Ryerson University professor April Lindgren calls “A Settlement Service in Disguise” in her pioneer case study on the City of Brampton’s municipal communication strategies and ethnic media (2015, Global Media Journal -- Canadian Edition Volume 8, Issue 2, pp. 49-71.)
The divide from mainstream media
When asked about it, government officials acknowledge the importance of ethnic media, but admit that it’s not being used to its full potential. There is still separation between mainstream media and ethnic media press conferences, message and language specifics.
But does there have to be? Shouldn’t ethnic media be an integral part of the communication mix, a two way channel for an open dialogue between governments, service providers and immigrant communities?
After all, with growing immigration and yet-to-be-improved integration processes, ethnic media will continue to grow and be a viable component of immigrant life in Canada. So why not make it a powerful tool in creating an engaging society where everyone can reach their full potential?
Metropolis 2016, while having presented lots of valuable information and opinions, left these questions unanswered for me right now.
Natalya Chernova is a MIREMS Ethnic Media Expert.
This article was first published on MIREMS. It has been re-published with permission.
by Rosanna Haroutounian in Quebec City
In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s media: the federal government has a new plan to welcome immigrants that aims to reunite more families; women from ethnic communities in Canada call for a more inclusive International Women’s Day; and Saskatchewan language schools are dealing with a significant cut in provincial funding.
Family reunification, refugees a focus: McCallum
Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 immigrants in 2016, a significant increase from the number admitted in recent years.
According to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the 2016 target represents a 7.4 per cent increase in planned admissions compared to 2015.
As reported in the Indo-Canadian Voice, IRCC said in its Mar. 8 announcement that this plan will emphasize family reunification in order to address the current backlog in processing applications and reunite families more quickly.
“As we continue to show our global leadership, Canada will reunite families, offer a place of refuge to those fleeing persecution, and support Canada’s long-term economic prosperity,” immigration minister John McCallum is quoted as saying in the Voice.
2016 will also see an increase in the number of admissions under the Refugees and Protected Persons class to support the Liberal’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees, as well as increase the numbers of refugees accepted from other countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Eritrea.
Migrants without status in Canada have asked the government to grant them the same rights that are given to Syrian refugees and to process their claims for status that they say the previous Conservative government ignored.
The Conservatives criticized the Liberal plan to cut the number of immigrants accepted under the economic class.
“It is the responsibility of the federal government to balance the needs of the Canadian economy with our humanitarian responsibilities,” said Michelle Rempel, Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Voice reported.
IRCC said the economic class will still make up the majority of immigration admissions in 2016, representing more than half of the total.
On Mar. 7, Quebec’s provincial government announced its new immigration policy, which also puts an emphasis on matching immigrants to the needs of its labour market. The plan, called “Together, We Are Quebec,” also aims to retain international students and temporary workers.
Other provinces, like Nova Scotia, are still negotiating with the federal government to gain authority over their immigration targets and say they won’t see changes in their quotas until 2017.
A more inclusive image of women in Canada
On Mar. 3, Canadian Immigrant magazine presented its third annual “Immigrant Women of Inspiration,” which focused on the theme of immigrant women in academia for 2016.
Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, Shalina Ousman, Parin Dossa, Leonie Sandercock and Purnima Tyagi are not only PhDs in various areas of study but “are pushing boundaries in education, in their passionate pursuit of knowledge, ideas and change.”
Some women say there is a need for more interfaith, intercultural events and dialogue to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) in Canada.
In a column for CBC Edmonton, Nakita Valerio wrote that rhetoric surrounding IWD does not promote intersectional or inclusive feminism.
She wrote that debates in Canada around issues concerning ethnic women, such as a Muslim woman’s decision to wear a niqab or a hijab, highlight how the day “accentuates the fact that equality for women in this country is still heavily tied to the individual's background, religious, racial, or otherwise.”
In the Globe and Mail, Septembre Anderson wrote that the definition of “women” used in IWD discourse does not include women of colour.
“In Canada, black women and other women of colour find themselves missing not only from movements for gender diversity, but also from seats of power.”
Both columnists pointed out that while 2016 marks 100 years since women in several provinces won the right to vote, Asian and African women in Canada gained this right much later, a struggle which is not described in the commemorative materials. Anderson called on women in power to work with women of colour and use their positions to eradicate discrimination.
Uncertain future for Saskatchewan language schools
The Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages (SOHL) says it is disappointed to learn the province's Ministry of Education will stop providing it subsidies to run 80 heritage language schools. SOHL has been receiving provincial subsidies for 25 years and currently teaches over 30 languages.
“The schools focus on teaching language and culture to immigrants and refugees, and improving access to indigenous languages,” reports CBC. SOHL's executive director Tamara Ruzic told the Regina Leader-Post that about 10 language schools have opened each year, many teaching Arabic.
She added that the $225,000 SOHL receives is “peanuts to the government.”
Minister of Education Don Morgan said that the decision was made for economic reasons, and added that the funding, which amounts to $4.58 per student each month, can be paid by parents.
“As a result of the announcement by the Ministry of Education, many of these non-profit heritage language schools will be faced with the difficult decision of whether they can continue to operate,” said Girma Sahlu, president of SOHL, in a press release.
The organization says the decision is a step in the wrong direction at a time when Canada is accepting many new immigrants and refugees who need welcoming environments and support in learning languages.
“The heritage language schools contribute to the retention of immigrants in Saskatchewan by helping people to maintain their culture, identity and traditions, while simultaneously learning about Canadian ways of life.”
by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver
In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s ethnic media: The Liberal government is set to repeal Bill C-24; municipal councils wage war on Uber and Canadians react to Haryana violence in India.
Liberals plan to repeal Bill C-24
The Liberal government has announced that it will be making significant changes to the Citizenship Act, repealing the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-24.
The bill gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage. According to the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, John McCallum, the new measures will make it nearly impossible to revoke citizenship.
Immigration officials will still be able to revoke citizenship if it was obtained by false representation or fraud and the federal court will be able to remove someone’s citizenship if they are involved in organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanities.
Of particular interest to new and aspiring Canadians, the government says that it plans to remove barriers to citizenship posed by Bill C-24.
As reported in the Canadian Immigrant magazine, McCallum announced Feb. 23, “We believe that it’s better to make it easier rather than harder for people to become citizens.”
Expected changes include reducing the length of time that someone must be physically present in Canada to qualify for citizenship, allowing time in Canada before permanent residency to count toward physical residency requirements and amending the age range for language and citizenship knowledge exams.
The government also intends to repeal the intent to reside provision, which caused some immigrants to fear that they could lose their citizenship if they moved outside of Canada.
While McCallum didn’t elaborate on what other changes would be made, he told The Globe & Mail that specifics would follow “in coming days, but not very many days.”
The government is set to table its annual immigration report before Mar. 9 and it will outline targets for all classes of immigrants, including Syrian refugees.
Uber-taxi war rages in Brampton
The battle against Uber in Ontario continues as Brampton City Council voted on Wednesday to temporarily suspend ride-sharing companies until the City can decide whether or not to allow them to operate in the area.
The motion, which was brought forward by city councillor Gurpreet S. Dhillon, was unanimously accepted by council, who cited concerns over public safety, consumer protection, fairness and regulation.
“This is a victory for the residents of Brampton,” said Dhillon, as reported by The Indo-Canadian Voice. “I’m very proud that my motion was supported by all my council colleagues. This decision is a good first step to guarantee the public’s safety and security, while maintaining fairness — that is our priority right now.”
According to councillors, ride-sharing companies like Uber have presented challenges for consumers and companies in Canada. There are also issues of legality, as many of these drivers are not licensed under the cities’ mobile licensing bylaws and as such are operating contrary to their requirements.
Other cities in Canada are having similar conversations about the ride-sharing problem. Mississauga city council voted unanimously in early March to suspend Uber's operations in the city.
“Innovation, technology and growth are driving competition in an established industry that has a long history of providing quality and reliable service,” said Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie. “The debate about how to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNC) is not going away and we need to get it right.”
The city will be seeking feedback from all stakeholders — the taxi and limousine industry, companies like Uber, as well as consumers — in reviewing the bylaws and regulations around ride-shares.
Students stand in solidarity with northern India
As caste violence continues to occur in the north Indian state of Haryana, Canadians are speaking out against fighting that has seen more than a dozen people killed.
On Mar. 2, students, faculty, and staff from the University of British Columbia (UBC) held a rally in solidarity with India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where, as one student wrote, JNU students “are now facing deadly onslaught of the state – its entire students’ union and leftist leadership booked under the draconian sedition charges.”
According to The Indo-Canadian Voice, “Hundreds of universities, public intellectuals, human rights [organizations] from all over the world have raised their voice in support of the JNU students and teachers.”
The violence has also affected non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in Canada, who fear it will impact investment in the state.
In a statement reprinted in The Indo-Canadian Voice, the Overseas Association of Haryanvis in Canada said, “We, the NRIs of Haryana origin, would like to appeal to our brothers and sisters to support centuries-old brotherhood among 36 biradaris in the larger interest of Haryana and the nation.”
The organization further stated that the agitation has not helped the common man of the state. On the contrary, the statement said it “will create more unemployment and increase poverty in an otherwise prosperous state.”
by Sukaina Jaffer in Brampton, Ontario
Despite an increase in outreach efforts, some members of Brampton’s ethnic media still feel disconnected from the City.
“There is a broken link between the City of Brampton and ethnic media,” says Jagdish Grewal, the editor and publisher of the Canadian Punjabi Post, a daily newspaper that has been published in Brampton for the past 14 years.
This is despite a case study released late last year by Ryerson University’s April Lindgren titled “Municipal Communication Strategies and Ethnic Media: A Settlement Service in Disguise”, which suggests that the City of Brampton has made wide strides in reaching out to its ethnic communities.
Following a 2007 study that deemed the City of Brampton unresponsive to the needs of its immigrant community, Lindgren says the City expanded its ethnic media strategy to fund the translation of press releases, corporate communications materials, and pertinent advertising messages among other initiatives. To date, the City of Brampton’s website shows press releases translated from English into French, Portuguese, Punjabi and Urdu.
But Grewal says that the press releases and service updates in Punjabi, which he receives from the City via e-mail, are not effective.
“The translated news sent out is not helpful,” Grewal explains. “The City is spending a lot of money on translation, which is not worth it as I have to rewrite the releases. This does not make sense to me.”
He adds: “Leaders of ethnic media outlets are educated enough to translate English press releases into their own language. My reporters are capable of writing news in English and Punjabi.”
If he could publish the translated press release as is, he would use it, but he points out, “Translation does not work like that.” He has to rewrite many of the press releases from the City into suitable news content for his paper.
A need for more authentic relationships
Grewal also mentions that in previous years, city council and the mayor had closer relationships with ethnic media outlets and held personal meetings with them, but now he does not find them as media friendly.
He recommends that the City build better relationships with ethnic media groups by keeping them updated on municipal issues through meetings and press conferences. This would lead to more coverage of city events, Grewal explains.
“Our readers are interested and want to know what’s happening in the city. Punjabi-speaking people are more aware about policy changes in the city because of coverage by ethnic media outlets.”
Rakesh Tiwari, editor of the Hindi Times newspaper, agrees with Grewal.
“I do not see any difference made by the City of Brampton,” says Tiwari, who has been with the newspaper for the past 12 years. “The local library and hospital approach me and send me messages in English,” he says, but adds that the City does not send him updates frequently.
“They need to connect better with the ethnic media,” asserts Tiwari, who also runs Atna Radio, a show on 101.3FM where local, national and political topics are discussed in Hindi.
He adds that if the City would keep in better touch with him, he could cover more city-related news and talk to the appropriate people.
“There is no support from them,” he says.
Some positive change happening: residents
While the ethnic media may not be benefiting from the City of Brampton’s efforts, area residents do see improvements being made to reach the ethnic community.
Rabab Kassam, a pharmacist who has been living in Brampton for four years since migrating from Kenya to Canada, finds that the City’s money has been well spent on ethnic outreach.
“In terms of bringing the community together, the City of Brampton has done a lot,” she says, “They are encouraging people from different cultures to adapt to a better life here.”
She mentions that the library near her house offers English language classes for newcomers as well as computer classes in Punjabi since Brampton has a large population of Punjabis from India.
She has also noticed information posted on bus stops and inside buses in different languages with messages related to housing.
“[The City of Brampton] is making a good investment so elders can participate in society,” says Kassam. “It’s a different language for elders, so if they can learn computers in their language then at least they can learn how to do banking from their homes and not have to go out in the winter.”
June Dickenson, manager of marketing and communications at the Brampton Public Library, says that her branch provides a lot of free multicultural services to the public.
These include English conversation clubs, a Punjabi writers’ club and a Hindi writers’ guild. In addition, they also have computer classes for Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu speakers. Community members can register for these opportunities through the City of Brampton.
“Our computer classes are extremely popular,” says Dickenson. “They fill up quickly. There is more demand than space.”
Editor's Note: Efforts were made to receive comment from the City of Brampton, but response was not provided by deadline.
by Danica Samuel in Toronto
News outlets that report on Canada’s ethnic communities and other niche media sources are standing out more than ever, while mainstream media companies are taking a hard hit.
“Niche reporting has somewhat found a way to make the business model work,” explains April Lindgren, professor at Ryerson University’s school of journalism. “We don’t know how successful it will be overtime, but that’s one area that is successful and it’s one area where newcomers, especially, are able to survive.”
She says the mainstream media business model is heavily influenced by technological change and that because ethnic and niche media outlets aren’t reporting the same things as the mainstream, it is easier for them to co-exist.
“When you’re smaller to begin with and when you’re niche, you might better weather the storm,” says Marci Ien of CTV Canada AM, a division of Bell Media.
The future of journalism in Canada
In November 2015, Bell Media cut 380 jobs from its operations, including national broadcaster CTV, while in January another major broadcast competitor, Rogers Media, announced 200 job cuts were on the way.
Print media has also been impacted across the country.
The Guelph Mercury daily newspaper announced it would stop publishing its print editions, impacting 23 full-time and three part-time jobs.
Postmedia announced 90 job cuts will result from a move to merge newsrooms in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa and reduce $80 million in expenses.
Torstar, the company that owns Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, The Toronto Star, announced last month that it will be laying off more than 300 production and editorial employees.
In Halifax, Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper, The Herald, stated it wanted to lay off up to 18 workers to cope with economic challenges.
These job cuts came off the heels of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) being warned that half of the country’s local TV stations could be off the air by 2020 without a boost in revenues to pay for local programming.
These job cuts have left many media professionals and observers worried about the future of journalism in Canada.
Lindgren says the business model of journalism is completely broken.
“The internet came in and disrupted the news business to such a great extent, that more traditional news organizations are failing and the industry and people in the news have yet to figure out a replacement model.”
For niche media, however, this may not be the case.
Chelby Daigle, editor-in-chief at Muslim Link, an online community newspaper based in Ottawa, says that niche media outlets can now utilize the Internet as a “hub of information.”
“We tell stories, but our approach is different. We also have event listings, a directory, and advertisements; so there’s reasons why traffic comes to our site. It’s a resource.”
The revolution of journalism
Lindgren is confident that the changes in journalism stem from how we consume news. She calls it a “revolution.”
“The Internet killed the classified ad sections of newspapers, and really broke the audiences for the newspaper sectors, magazines and television,” Lindgren emphasizes. “Readers’ habits of where they go for news are changing.”
Lindgren adds: “All of this combined has mounted to a revolution in the news business, and with revolutions, often things get torn apart before new systems are invented to replace them.”
A part of this revolution is finding ways to tell stories and report on news differently.
“It’s the industry changing, but at the same time when things like that happen, I think there is opportunity, but you just have to do it in a different way,” says Ien.
The difference is what Daigle describes as cheaper, innovative and independent.
“We used to be a print newspaper and we stopped doing that. It’s too much work, craft and labour,” she says. “Online we have a better way of tracking our readership and who clicks on our ads.”
How niche and ethnic media stand out
Daigle says that while there are changes in the way people consume news, the most important aspect of niche media is that it should service the public.
Ethnic and niche media outlets cater to demographics that use their content as a resource to keep them close to their respective communities.
“They are anti-mainstream," says Ien. "They do the stories the way mainstream doesn’t and that’s what makes them successful. They found areas that maybe the mainstream isn’t touching on as much. They can carve out their own pieces of pie, do it well and service an audience that maybe isn’t being serviced that way.”
Like Daigle, Ien says that the stories being told by smaller community-oriented news outlets can often times heighten the content of mainstream media.
“It’s interesting because a lot of mainstream media follows us, and get story ideas from our content,” explains Daigle. “We made it easier for people to know about our community.”
Ien says she even brings some of these ethnic stories to the newsroom at CTV.
“There’s no way you can be in this country and not have had various people from different races touch your life.”
by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver
In this week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in Canada’s ethnic media: faith-based organizations are at the forefront of Syrian refugee resettlement efforts; Taiwan’s elections are lauded as a step towards democracy in China and members of Vancouver’s Sikh community are helping to spread the love this Valentine’s Day.
Refugee crisis brings back painful memories for Jewish community
Faith-based organizations in Canada play a pivotal role in resettling refugees during crises, one not often undertaken in other countries, according to a panel hosted by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute of the Greater Toronto Area earlier this month.
Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders explained to an audience on Feb. 5 that unlike in other countries, where the government has greater control over resettlement processes, in Canada, many faith communities make efforts to privately sponsor families and assist them in their transition period.
As reported in The Canadian Jewish News (CJN), the Jewish community has stepped up significantly to assist in the ongoing crisis. In total, 35 groups working with Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) have formed sponsorship initiatives. Even more have formed independent sponsorship groups looking to bring Syrian families to Canada.
The Canadian Jewish community has a long history of supporting incoming refugees. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the community actively sponsored many Vietnamese families escaping the aftermath of the Vietnam war.
Naomi Alboim, professor and chair of the policy forum at the school of policy studies at Queen’s University and one of the panellists at the event, explained to the CJN that the current anti-refugee movement sweeping Europe “brings back painful memories” for the Jewish community.
“We’re responding to this crisis as Jews, because it’s the right, humanitarian thing to do,” she said. “We’re paying it forward.”
This faith community is not alone in its endeavours. Toronto’s Muslim and Catholic communities have also stepped forward to contribute in some way. Some synagogues have even joined mosques or churches to submit joint applications to sponsor Syrian families.
The article makes note of an event in December, during which Jewish communities in Vancouver fundraised to bring two Kurdish families to Canada.
Taiwan election heralded as beginning of democracy in China
Panellists lauded Taiwan’s recent election of its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen, as a sign that “democracy is compatible with Chinese culture” at a recent event hosted by the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group.
The forum, held on Jan. 28, discussed the election that saw the former opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, beat the Kuomintang with 56 per cent of the popular vote. Known for being pro-China, the Kuomintang has ruled Taiwan for the past eight years.
This is also the first time that the Kuomintang has lost control of the legislature.
Panellist Andre Laliberte, a professor at the University of Ottawa, told Epoch Times after the event, “It is proof that people who have Chinese culture can have democracy, and democracy is compatible with Chinese culture.”
Laliberte was joined on the panel by Wu Rong-chuan, the newly arrived representative for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, or the Taiwanese embassy in Canada. Wu told the Times that he felt voters had acted more rationally during this election than in years past and that policies were well discussed.
“There was little sensational language during the election,” he said.
Canadian Senator Michael MacDonald expressed his hopes that this victory would mark the beginning of significant change in what is “going to be the big, emerging real quest in mainland China for democracy.”
“If you want to see what China could do with democracy — go to Taiwan,” he said.
Sikh volunteers spread the love this Valentine’s Day
Sikh organizations in Vancouver are scrambling this weekend as they finish collecting 900 roses, chocolates and greeting cards to distribute to shelters across the Lower Mainland for Valentine’s Day.
Hosted by Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen and Global Girl Power in partnership with Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar, this annual event sees donors and volunteers working for several weeks to raise money and organize the logistics for the big day.
“Sikhs believe in Guru Nanak’s philosophy to love all and feed all,” Roveen Kandola tells The Indo-Canadian Voice.
Kandola, who works with Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, adds, “It’s important that during these times, we think of those less fortunate and make their day much brighter.”
Over the past three years, this initiative has reached over 100 shelters in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland including Burnaby Safe House, Elizabeth Gurney House and Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter.
The intent of the event is to give women and children at these locations “the opportunity to experience a more enjoyable Valentine’s Day,” the Voice reports.
Irene de Ocampo at Elizabeth Gurney House says she is very thankful for the work of these volunteers and donors. “Our residents (moms and kids) truly appreciate your generosity.”
All packages will be distributed to shelters this weekend.
by Matt D’Amours in Montreal
It can be difficult for reporters to get information or comment from an organization for their reporting in general, but for immigrant journalists, language barriers and a lack of familiarity with public relations (PR) create unique challenges.
Chantal Francoeur, a journalism professor from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), gave a talk at Concordia University last week focusing on the PR-journalist dynamic, and the power held by PR professionals.
“When a real reporter wants access to an organization, there is just one entry, one person with whom the reporter can talk to: the PR professional,” Francoeur explains to a group gathered at Concordia’s Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism. “It’s the PR professional who holds the key that opens the door to an organization, and he or she acts as a gatekeeper and journalist watchdog.”
Navigating language barriers
For Jonathan Caragay-Cook, news editor at Concordia’s The Link newspaper, the PR doors may not open as easily as they do for other reporters. Cook arrived in Canada less than two years ago, and as an American of Filipino descent, he says that his inability to speak French often presents barriers when he reaches out to organizations in Quebec.
Last Fall, Cook reached out to an official from the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, a French-language college with a politically active student body. The official answered the phone in French, and Cook tried his best to string together a question using the limited words he knew. After a few seconds, the official told him that he couldn’t speak English and hung up.
“I then realized that I just wasn’t going to get that perspective in my story,” Cook recalls.
In other instances, Cook says that francophone PR professionals who do speak English have their prepared statements crafted in French, and are therefore wary of straying from their native tongue.
Gaining more access
Although Cook’s experiences in Quebec represent clear obstacles, other immigrant journalists like Rita Latif has had a different type of difficulty when dealing with the PR machine.
Latif, a Concordia University journalism student who arrived in Canada from Egypt in 2014, says that her biggest challenge has been adapting to the relative openness of corporations and institutions in Canada.
“In Egypt, trying to reach these people is not as easy as here … it’s not something we’re used to,” Latif explains. “For us, these [officials] are restricted.”
Latif says that she is still getting used to the notion that a journalist can simply perform a Google search and call a PR person or government official; she says it is hard to break out of her “safe zone.”
Mistaking press releases for advertising
This lack of familiarity with public relations among immigrant journalists was examined in a 2015 study by April Lindgren, founding director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre. Lindgren looked at the case of Brampton, Ontario, and how the municipality’s attempt to reach out to the city’s ethnic media was initially plagued with issues.
In 2007, Brampton’s communications department began distributing press releases to ethnic media outlets such as the Canadian Punjabi Post in an attempt to better reach out to the city’s immigrant population. According to Lindgren’s findings, however, this led to some confusion.
The study indicates that there was a lack of familiarity among ethnic outlets with this form of communication, and some newspapers simply published the releases in full. Others even sent the city a bill for advertising fees.
“Some new arrivals [to Canada] don’t understand the PR world,” Lindgren says. “These newspapers were not able to distinguish between a press release and an advertisement.”
In light of these difficulties, the city of Brampton made changes to their communications process, which included a plan to hire a “specialty media coordinator”, and to translate all media releases into French, Punjabi, Urdu and Portuguese.
Understanding the intention
While this type of outreach can be useful in acclimating immigrant journalists and ethnic media to Western-style public relations, Tom Henheffer, Executive Director of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, says sometimes there are other intentions at play. He points to former minister of national defence and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, as an example.
“Kenney, under Stephen Harper, made a point of being in the ethnic press at every chance he could … they thought a small paper would be excited to be able to get someone high-up in government,” Henheffer says.
“But [Kenney] really infantilized them because ... it was an opportunity to speak to these guys and get a positive headline.”
Issue not often discussed
Speaking with New Canadian Media after her lecture on public relations, Francoeur says that different outlets will have unique perspectives on the challenges of dealing with PR professionals.
When asked if the issue of limited access for immigrant journalists has ever come up in her classroom, Francoeur says it has not, but that this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the problem doesn’t exist.
“Our journalism programs are pretty homogenous ... and it doesn’t provide the whole, representative picture,” Francoeur explains.
“Student journalists already have difficulties reaching PR people. Do they have more difficulty because their name sounds different? I don’t know … and maybe I don’t know because we don’t have that many [immigrant students].”
-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit