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New Canadian Media

Commentary by: Pradip Rodrigues in Mississauga, ON

Last week the Quebec government released details on how it planned on disbursing $36.4 million to struggling newspapers over the next five years. This money is to help smaller newspapers that are especially hit by a steep ad revenue decline. The idea is to help newspapers make that inevitable digital transition. Print news media will have until Jan. 15 to present their plans and vision for a digital future. Those publishers with foresight will prevail, the rest will simply fold up and fade into the sunset. They don’t call print media a sunset industry for nothing.

This plan would help only legitimate newspapers that can provide proof in black and white that they have devoted their time and energy toward truly supporting and chronicling the life and times in their respective communities.

Federal help not in the cards as yet

Last September, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly outlined government’s vision for cultural and creative industries in a digital world which would help those in the television industry but it didn’t include the moribund print industry. A federal boost to the Canada Media Fund is set for 2018, to cover the shortfall caused by the drop in money from the private sector.

Late last month, a deal between Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc. saw them selling newspapers to each other and in the process close 21 of the 22 community newspapers, this costs 244 jobs, many of them professional journalists.

Over the past few years, hundreds of journalists all across north America have lost their jobs as newspapers close down, merge or transition to digital.

Journalists face a bleak future

To be a journalist in the current climate, one may as well be a tech whiz or be able to tweet at great speed. Few newspapers that have transitioned to digital are turning a profit because for some strange reason no one wants to pay for anything on the net and gone are the days when households subscribed to newspapers. In the case of many community newspapers, you can’t get people to pick it up for free.

The only media house in Canada whose future isn’t in jeopardy happens to be CBC a fully taxpayer funded enterprise costing us big bucks- $1.04 billion in 2015 and given the intense competition it faces, an additional $150 million by the end of 2017.

While there is enough justification put out by successive governments why the CBC is important, there have been few who’ve made a case about the importance of keeping community newspapers alive.

There is even less of a case being made in regard to ethnic newspapers in major cities across Canada and that is more a result of short-sightedness on the part of publishers or the fact that many of them start newspapers simply out of spite for a fellow community businessman or to promote themselves or their other real businesses or perhaps even to run for public office one day.

When it comes to South Asian newspapers the situation is comical and often farcical, there are dozens of newspapers some of which exist in name and are published occasionally, others have upto 80 or 90 or even 100 percent of their news that is about India, Bollywood or just lifts from the web. Community news coverage is an after-thought if at all so it is unlikely that a majority of these so-called ethnic publications could qualify for any government help in the near future.

Government help could be too late

It is a matter of time before pressure is brought upon Ontario and other provinces to help out ethnic community newspapers given the large and growing immigrant community. Already there are influential South Asians who are mobilizing to rally for the cause of ethnic community newspapers. Unfortunately or rather fortunately, only a handful of genuine ethnic community newspapers, some of which are on life support will receive government funding. The criteria for receiving these funds would require these newspapers to make a case for their survival and provide proof of being a community newspaper and of course having professional journalists helming these newspapers would help the cause.

Few ethnic newspapers are quality products

I spoke with an influential and politically active South Asian recently on the state of the South Asian ethnic media and he mentioned he could only think of a handful of newspapers worth reading, the rest in his words were ‘garbage.’

Even if Ontario were to follow Quebec’s lead on supporting community newspapers and help them transition to a digital future, it will already have been too late. Hundreds of journalists are been forced to make a humiliating exit from the profession given the reality. Some have taken to writing blogs nobody reads or emails to long lost relatives hoping to be included in their Wills. But for the vast majority of laid-off journalists, the only meaningful writing they’ll do is writing their professional obituaries.

It is harder for community newspapers to ever entice talented journalists to invest their time and talent because they don’t see a future for the newspaper and would either opt for public relations or something online.

When it comes to ethnic newspapers, the situation is even more hopeless. It’s a Catch-22 situation, publishers cannot attract or retain talent because they are either unable or unwilling to pay their writers according to industry and Canadian standards, with the result, the quality of community coverage is minimal or negligible. So even when Ontario decides to spent up to a million dollars on ethnic publication, few if any will qualify. It is harder to manufacture proof of community coverage than it is to fudge circulation figures.

Smart mainstream media houses are meanwhile bolstering coverage of ethnic communities and are hiring token South Asian journalists in the hope that they can be ready for government handouts if and when it comes. Meanwhile ethnic community newspapers across the country with a few exceptions will continue to flounder. Mercifully it won’t be a loss to the community because there is little community news in the first place. By default it will be the big players that will benefit from any provincial or federal financial help. I for one won’t be around when all of that happens.- CINEWS


Republished under arranagement with Canindia News

Published in Commentary

 

A study of Canada’s newspapers began with bleak testimony in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, as MPs heard that 22 daily newspapers have closed over...

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Published in Arts & Culture

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. 

"[W]hen you’re niche, you might better weather the storm.”

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. 

A part of this revolution is finding ways to tell stories and report on news differently.

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.” 

"They can carve out their own pieces of pie, do it well and service an audience that maybe isn’t being serviced that way.”

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.”

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Arts & Culture

by Priya Ramanujam in Scarborough, Ontario

At a time when national and local mainstream media seem to be downsizing and shutting down daily, where does Canada’s ethnic media fit in? And how will these outlets survive? 

The 2015 Canadian edition of the Global Media Journal, edited by Rukhsana Ahmed, explores these questions with five research papers that “address challenges and opportunities multicultural (ethnic) media present to immigrant integration.” 

Across the board, one sentiment is clear: when considering both its multiculturalism and national media policy, Canada must keep ethnic media in mind.

Brampton’s ethnic media bridges cultural divides

It takes more than receiving a press release from the municipal government to ensure ethnic media report on city affairs, according to a case study by Ryerson University’s April Lindgren. In her study, “Municipal Communication Strategies and Ethnic Media: A Settlement Service in Disguise”, she suggests the city of Brampton is leading the pack in understanding this. 

Interestingly, a decade ago, a similar study deemed the city of Brampton unresponsive to the needs of its immigrant community.

So what changed? 

Lindgren cites 2006, when the city transitioned from being a multiracial city with various visible minority groups making up over 50 per cent of its demographic to a city with a dominant South Asian — specifically Punjabi-speaking Indo-Canadian — population as a turning point of sorts.

This is when growing concern emerged from long-time residents about newcomers and the city recognized a need to amplify its ethnic media reach in order to mitigate brewing conflict.

The resulting strategy included hiring an ethnic media coordinator who had to speak Punjabi, standardizing advertising buys across a number of approved ethnic media outlets and translating all communications material into Punjabi and Hindi (as well as Urdu and Portuguese).

The city recognized a need to amplify its ethnic media reach in order to mitigate brewing conflict.

While it wasn’t all smooth sailing — for example, some papers thought the press releases were paid advertisements and invoiced the city for them — Lindgren concludes that municipalities that follow Brampton’s lead will find they are actually “providing a settlement service in the guise of a communication policy.”

This is echoed by University of Ottawa researchers Luisa Veronis and Rukhsana Ahmed, who studied four ethno-cultural communities in Ottawa — Chinese, Spanish-speaking Latin American, South Asian and Somali — and their access to and use of ethnic media. 

They suggest the City of Ottawa adopt a similar strategy as Brampton and engage multicultural media, which is typically more accessible (i.e. free, absent of language barriers) as well as translate important communications material, particularly on the city website.

Chinese language media struggles to maintain standards

The pressing need for stability and growth often trumps journalistic quality for Chinese-language media in Canada, say many members of the Chinese Canadian ethnic media in Xiapoing Li’s research paper, “A Critical Examination of Chinese Language Media’s Normative Goals and News Decisions.”

Much of the pressure for remaining profitable comes as a result of increased competition from free newspapers and websites entering the market and declining advertising revenues. Case in point: one of the top dailies, World Journal, ceasing all publication in Canada. 

But as Li points out, Chinese-language outlets have many important functions, one of the most important being assisting with the integration and settlement of first generation Canadians. 

The pressing need for stability and growth often trumps journalistic quality for Chinese language media.

These outlets are also the preferred media for Chinese migrants living in major Canadian cities who are looking to gather both government and general lifestyle information, according to researcher Yuping Mao. 

“The government and NGOs should try to disseminate important information in Chinese ethnic media and through Chinese social networks,” states Mao in “Investigating Chinese Migrants’ Information-Seeking Patterns in Canada: Media Selection and Language Preference”.

Mao's study further underlines what Li's paper finds: Chinese ethnic media should not only be upheld to high journalistic standards, but should be created in ways that are sustainable in Canada.

For this to happen, Li puts forth three recommendations for Chinese ethnic media in Canada: offer professional training opportunities for ethnic media journalists, some who are hired without any previous experience to reduce costs; explore possibilities of organizations like the CBC collaborating with major ethnic media outlets; and finally allocate public funds for multicultural and multilingual media — a model already in place in Australia.

“There is little justification for the absence of similar services when Canada is held up as a model of multiculturalism,” Li writes. 

Younger generations distance themselves from ethnic media

While ethnic media’s importance among first generation Canadians is clear, these outlets are growing out of touch with subsequent generations, says University of Waterloo’s Augie Fleras.

In “Multicultural Media in a Post-Multicultural Canada? Rethinking Integration,” Fleras examines the shortcomings of “multicultural media” when it comes to connecting with readers and viewers who are resistant to being placed in ethnic silos. 

The issue is part of a larger context in which second and third generation Canadians see multiculturalism as an “obsolete straight jacket,” the paper suggests. 

Second and third generation Canadians see multiculturalism as an “obsolete straight jacket."

Fleras writes that in 2015, 10 ethnic papers flourished in their federal election coverage throughout just five Brampton, Ontario ridings where there is a heavy South Asian population. This is at the same time when longstanding publications like Canadian Jewish News and Corriere Canadese struggle to stay afloat.

In order to survive, traditional ethnic media must evolve, Fleras explains, making several recommendations. 

The most important one is to produce content that is reflective of the complex lived realities of racialized Canadians, many of whom subscribe to this mentality: “Do not judge me because of my ethnicity, but never forget where I came from.”


Research Watch is a monthly column on NewCanadianMedia.ca that looks at recently released and emerging research relating to immigration, settlement, immigrant/ethno-cultural communities and multiculturalism. Researchers or organizations releasing studies we should consider are encouraged to write to assignment@newcanadianmedia.ca

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Policy

by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto

An editor's open letter following her firing by a Chinese-language newspaper over the Michael Chan affair has re-opened the conversation among "ethnic" journalists about professional standards and the future of the industry.

In her open letter to the Chinese media, Helen Wang, the former editor-in-chief of the Chinese Canadian Post (pictured left), claims she was fired because she published an article written by columnist Jonathan Fon criticizing Michael Chan.

“Not to mention the legitimacy of Jonathan Fon’s column, the fact [Wang] was fired without any reasoning indicates further evaluation is needed on Chinese media employees’ tough work environment,” Wang writes at the start of the open letter.

The letter continues by arguing that media, as a “social conscience,” should be separated from any government influence and reveal truth. However, the hardship of making a living working in the Chinese media is hard to ignore – some newspaper’s publishers sacrifice their journalistic standards in return for more advertising revenue.

"What I don’t like the most is that my story was always compromised by heavy workload. I tried to be unbiased but at the end of the day, we don’t have enough resources or manpower to do a balanced story." - Min Li, former journalist

Wang concludes by expressing her lifelong passion in working as a journalist, and promised to return to Chinese media in the future. Jonathan Fon, on the other hand, assured he would keep freelancing and speak out without being influenced.

Journalists struggle under pressures

Min Li, who used to work at a daily Chinese newspaper based in Scarborough, didn’t hesitate to speak about her frustration working as a reporter for seven years.

“What I don’t like the most is that my story was always compromised by heavy workload. I tried to be unbiased but at the end of the day, we don’t have enough resources or manpower to do a balanced story. It’s not about quality that we are working on. It’s the quantity the editor targets.”

Li adds: “The workload is fixed with two stories a day, at least 800 Chinese characters per story. Nobody cares how thorough or how balanced your story is as long as you submit two stories at the end of the day.”

Several months ago, Li quit the job and became a freelance interpreter. Without a stable bi-weekly paycheque or any medical benefits, she is determined to go in a new direction and build up a professional career she firmly believes in.

What cost Wang her job at the Chinese Canadian Post was an article Jonathan Fon wrote right after the Globe and Mail published a two-day investigative feature on Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan’s ties with the Chinese government and the fact he was investigated by CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.

Li is lucky to be young and single. Jianxin Huang, on the other hand, is a father to two teenage children. He worked as an editor at a newspaper that no longer runs in the community, losing his job after three years.

Huang graduated from university in China with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Between his work experience in China and here after immigrating to Canada, he had been in the newsroom for two decades.

Huang had to enlist the help of Second Career, a program funded by the Ontario government that provides laid-off workers with skills training and helps them find jobs in high-demand occupations.

“I now work as a construction worker, going everywhere in the GTA. It’s very different than the job I had been doing for decades in newsroom, but I’m happy with what I got,” Huang says. Although his workload is quite literally heavier, he admits he earns a higher wage and gets more comprehensive medical and dental benefits, as well as work injury insurance.

What cost Wang her job at the Chinese Canadian Post was an article Jonathan Fon wrote right after the Globe and Mail published a two-day investigative feature on Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan’s ties with the Chinese government and the fact he was investigated by CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.

Fon argued in his column (pictured right) that Chan doesn’t represent the Chinese community, only his constituents. CSIS’s investigation on Chan is about his own integrity and has nothing to do with the Chinese community.

Chan’s office has denied any involvement in Wang’s job termination.

Chan files lawsuit

In the meantime, Chan has already filed a libel suit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the Globe and Mail for its two features that suggested his ties to the Chinese government. In the statement of claim, he seeks $4.55 million in general and punitive damages.

“This has been a difficult time for me and my family … Since these stories were published, I have given a great deal of thought to the impact the unfounded allegations against me will have in the immigrant communities of Canada,” the claim says.

In the claim, Chan also indicated that his personal goal “in this litigation is to clear my name and restore my reputation.” He will donate any amount awarded to him by the court to PEN Canada, a writers’ association for freedom of expression, and the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation.

During an interview with Sing Tao Daily, one of the largest Chinese daily newspapers in North America, Chan indicated that he has met with Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, asking about who pays for his libel-suit fees given the triple identities he has as an MPP, a cabinet minister and a citizen. He said it would take the Integrity Commissioner one month to give a proper guideline.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriya) in Scarborough, Ontario

With October’s federal elections inching closer, there will be a steady stream of coverage in mainstream newspapers across the country of the candidates vying for a seat in Parliament. As journalists and newspaper editors put together these stories, Canadian researcher Erin Tolley is calling for them to give careful thought to how they depict candidates of visible-minority backgrounds.

Tolley, an assistant professor in political science at the University of Toronto, is the author of Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics, a book-length study set for release in November, which examines how race factors into news stories about politicians and political candidates.

The book includes empirical data she collected during the 2008 federal elections after studying and comparing a sample of over 1,000 news stories from 18 mainstream Canadian daily newspapers on both visible minority and white candidates, as well as candid interviews with political candidates, others working in politics, and journalists.

[Visible-minority candidates] tend to have to “prove themselves” in ways their white counterparts do not.

While Tolley maintains the book’s message is not that the media are racist – she finds absolutely no examples of blatant racism in her analysis – what Framed does is use media coverage of Canadian politics to underline the fact that race still matters in Canada.

Likely candidate or a long shot?

One particular area of focus Tolley spends a lot of time analyzing is how a candidate’s viability in the election run was framed. Were they considered likely to succeed or more of a long shot?

If the candidate was an incumbent (currently holding the seat in Parliament), no matter whether he or she was a visible minority or not, Tolley finds the coverage to be relatively the same. If the person was a non-incumbent, however, the differences in coverage become apparent.

“What I found is if you’re a visible-minority non-incumbent you’re portrayed as a long shot, an unlikely winner – basically you don’t have a hope,” explains Tolley. This wasn’t the case for white non-incumbents.

This finding speaks to a certain level of skepticism that exists around visible-minority candidates, she adds. They tend to have to “prove themselves” in ways their white counterparts do not.

Tolley finds the notions of visible-minority candidates only being able to serve people from their own ethnic group and unable to understand the issues of other Canadians concerning. White candidates, she says, don’t face this challenge.

“When I talked to political strategists from the party, people who worked on the campaigns, they said, ‘Yes, they need to meet a higher bar,’” explains Tolley. “They’re going to be met with skepticism – they’re going to have to be better and to be stronger in order to get nominated and in order to win.”

Pigeonholed on the issues

Where Tolley also finds stark differences in coverage is in the types of issues visible minorities seem to be most connected to. While they are often quoted in stories on immigration policy, multiculturalism or poverty – all “so-called minority issues,” as Tolley refers to them – their voices are often absent from stories about more “pressing” issues like the economy and the environment.

“Some people said to me, ‘Well, that makes sense because probably visible minorities don’t care as much about those issues,’” recalls Tolley. “[But] when I talked to visible-minority candidates about their issue priorities, many of them talked about the economy – things like taxes, finding good jobs, having credentials recognized, that sort of thing – and that doesn’t come out in their media coverage.”

Tolley finds the notions of visible-minority candidates only being able to serve people from their own ethnic group and unable to understand the issues of other Canadians concerning. White candidates, she says, don’t face this challenge, as they are often positioned as having broad reach and the ability to “woo” or “court” the ethnic vote.

“No one ever talks about the fact that white candidates also appeal to white voters. I mean, no one would write that,” Tolley says. “No one even describes white candidates as ‘white candidates’ or really talks about where they were born. Whiteness is basically put forward as the default and therefore not worthy of being mentioned, whereas minority or immigrant background is something that is covered because it is seen to be outside the norm or atypical, and therefore newsworthy.”

Changing pace

With the upcoming elections, there is still time for media outlets to consider Tolley’s research in their approach to the stories that they run. Everything from picture and headline choice to inclusion of socio-demographic background and whether a “diversity” angle is relevant to a story or not should be considered, she advises.

But most importantly, Tolley says, people – not just the media, but all Canadians – need to be open to the idea of talking about race, a subject she found during her research many are still uncomfortable with.

“Some of my interviewees talked about the fact that they are colour-blind – they don’t see colour,” she explains. “I said instead of talking about ‘colour-blindness,’ we should think more about the fact that we’ve been mute in conversations about race. We haven’t had mature discussions about it.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Politics

by Robert Liwang

Toronto-area ethnic newspapers tended to cover the Conservatives more extensively than other political parties during the 2011 election, concludes a new study by Ryerson University journalism professor April Lindgren (also a member of New Canadian Media's Editorial Advisory Board).

“The newspapers we looked at for this research tended to give the Conservatives more coverage than the other parties, and I think that had a lot to do with the efficient and effective campaign that the Conservatives ran,” said Lindgren, who is the lead investigator for the Local News Research Project. “It’s also important to note that for the most part, the coverage was either neutral or positive so overall the Tories were getting their message out to readers of these ethnocultural publications in a way that worked well for them.”

Lindgren said the Tories benefited from the effects of incumbency but they also made a point of courting ethnic journalists by giving them special access to interviews and briefings by the prime minister and cabinet ministers. She suggested that smaller news organizations may have been more vulnerable to what she called the Conservative “charm offensive” because limited newsroom budgets made them more reliant on photos and other content supplied by the party. In some cases, party advertising may also have had an effect: The majority of political advertisements in the Canadian Punjabi Post, for instance, were purchased by the Tories, prompting questions about the influence this may have had on coverage decisions.

Analysis of the election coverage also suggested that individual newspaper’s commitment to election coverage seemed to be influenced by the number of candidates from the publication’s readership community.

Lindgren’s research, which will be published in the December 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Political Science, focused on coverage of the 2011 federal election in five ethnocultural publications in the Greater Toronto Area – the Russian ExpressKorea Times DailyCanadian Punjabi PostPunjabi Daily and Ming Pao. All are daily publications except for the weekly Russian Express. The study concluded that while there was no overwhelming pattern of stories or photos skewed explicitly in favour of the Conservatives, the party did benefit in that more of its politicians were featured in photographs, it was the sole focus of more stories and photos than its competitors, and it was mentioned first most frequently in news coverage.

“The degree to which a candidate or party can consistently earn first mentions in stories…is a measure of campaign effectiveness in that it means party strategists are choosing the topic and framing the discussion, leaving the competition to react in later paragraphs,” Lindgren observed in the paper, entitled “Toronto-area ethnic newspapers and Canada’s 2011 federal election: An investigation of content, focus and partisanship.”

Lindgren said she was interested in investigating election coverage in the ethnic media because language barriers have limited the amount of research done in this area. During the 2011 election, the Conservative Party, in particular, also launched a media strategy that targeted ethnic communities, because a “growing number of ridings in and around major Canadian cities were home to concentrations of potential supporters from single ethnic groups,” Lindgren wrote.

In almost all cases the ethnic papers filled in gaps left by mainstream media by providing more extensive coverage of the local races of interest to their readers.

Most Canadian voters do not participate directly in political events and therefore depend on the news media to help them make informed decisions, Lindgren noted. In addition to examining whether the Conservative party’s courtship of ethnic media paid off in terms of coverage, the research also examined how much election-related news the ethnocultural publications carried, the subject matter dealt with in the coverage and the geographic focus of the reporting (local campaigns versus national campaigns).

The results showed that interest in the election varied by publication. The Punjabi Daily carried the most election-related coverage – a total of 123 stories and photos, or 32 per cent of all news items the paper published during the study period. The Russian Express, on the other hand, published just 19 election-related stories and photos, which made up a mere 5.9 per cent of their total news items. The study also observed that both the Punjabi Daily and the Punjabi Post were more similar to mainstream news coverage in that both publications ran more stories about election strategy and poll results than issue-related articles.

Analysis of the election coverage also suggested that individual newspaper’s commitment to election coverage seemed to be influenced by the number of candidates from the publication’s readership community. The Punjabi newspapers, which carried the most election news, also had the most in-group candidates to cover.

In almost all cases the ethnic papers filled in gaps left by mainstream media by providing more extensive coverage of the local races of interest to their readers. Compared to the Toronto Star, for instance, the Punjabi papers published much more extensive coverage of the ridings of Brampton-Springdale and Brampton-Gore-Malton, where all three main federal parties ran candidates of Punjabi background.

Since 2011, other parties have followed the Conservative lead in terms of targeting ethnic media. British Columbia’s Liberal party, for instance, established an ethnic outreach strategy in the spring of 2013. Among other initiatives, the strategy called for hiring more people with language skills to deal with media requests and establishing a group of supporters to champion the Liberals in non-English media by writing letters to newspaper editors and calling in to open-line shows.

This article was originally published by the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre.

Published in Top Stories

By MYRON LOVE
The announcement by the Canadian Jewish News Board of Directors in early April that the Jewish newspaper of record for Toronto and Montreal is shutting down its print edition at the end of June has sent shock waves across the country. With correspondents and columnists in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, the CJN was the closest thing that Canada’s Jewish community has had to a national paper.

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Published in Top Stories
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 18:36

A newcomer’s take on Canadian media

by Yaldaz Sadakova for New Canadian Media 

As a newcomer to Canada, I’m having a hard time reading big-name papers like The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. I'm getting the feeling that when they cover stories, these publications don't keep new Canadians in mind. In my limited experience, Canadian outlets for the most part are failing a growing chunk of the country’s audience: immigrants and particularly newcomers.

I guess they’re not interested in targeting, along with the majority, the very group which drives this country’s population growth: immigrants.

I’ve been in Canada for about two months, and when I first started reading Canadian news, I had no idea what the hell the articles were talking about. Every story I went through left me feeling uninformed and stupid.

Why is that? Because the journalists writing and editing these articles assume that their audience is comprised of people who have either lived in Canada all their lives or at least have a good understanding of the issues in this The Land of the Maple Leaf.

No, dear Toronto Star and other Canadian media, I don’t know the history behind Idle No More, an ongoing protest movement organized by Canada’s aboriginal people. So when you publish articles that provide no context whatsoever about this movement, you’re really doing a bad job.

Digging up background

I’ve had to do a significant amount of online research to find out that the country’s indigenous people tend to be less educated than the rest of the population and overrepresented in the prison population. That a number of them struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. That many of them still live on reserves where basics like clean water and heating are lacking. I’ve enjoyed the research, but you could have provided some of that context.

Also, dear Canadian outlets, using an acronym without explaining what it stands for is a really shoddy practice. Because, believe it or not, Canada is not the centre of the world, so I don’t know what NDP stands for. Well, now I do because I Googled it – New Democratic Party, an opposition party.

Why does all of this matter? Because, first, as I mentioned, Canadian outlets are losing eye balls by alienating a growing portion of the country’s population. By failing to provide big-picture explanations, media are also ensuring that their stories have an incredibly short life span.

This kind of lazy journalism is also a disservice to immigrants themselves because staying informed is a crucial way for them, especially for newcomers, to integrate.

Finally, when you present the news in a way that assumes your audience already knows the issues, you’re breaking a fundamental journalism rule.

Back to basics

One of the very first things I learned as a hands-on student at Columbia Journalism School in New York City is that a reporter always has to assume that readers, listeners and viewers do not know the background and do not know what acronyms stand for. It’s the job of the journalist to provide all of that information.

If users have to Google things to figure out what’s going on – and not many people will; most will simply abandon the story, never to come back to that site – then the outlet has not done its job.

As Cheryl Einhorn, one of my journalism instructors at Columbia, used to say, “you should craft your stories in a way that allows everyone to wander in and walk away with a good understanding of the subject.” If you submitted a news piece with inside baseball language and no context, Cheryl -- and all the other J-School instructors -- would tear your work apart. Raising questions that you don't answer was one of the gravest sins you could commit at Columbia.

But, sadly, outside of Columbia it's a different story. And just to be fair to Canadian media, I do have to acknowledge that because the global news industry is struggling and journalists are chronically overworked and often underpaid, more and more news outlets around the world are failing to provide the proper context for their reporting.

Still, Canada, that’s hardly an excuse for taking a provincial approach to news in a country that has so many newcomers like me. - New Canadian Media

Yaldas Sadakova is a multimedia journalist who has worked in New York City and Brussels. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Yaldaz arrived in Canada from Belgium two months ago.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

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