Racial and Cultural Diversity in The Newsroom

In the same way that Canadian news reporting does not reflect Canada’s multiculturalism, racial diversity ‘behind the scenes’ of news media is similarly disproportionate. Almost a quarter of the Canadian population identifies as a member of what Statistics Canada refers to as a “visible minority,” and while a 2021 study found a similar rate of representation in newsrooms, eight in ten Canadian newsrooms have no racialized journalists in leadership roles.[1]

When racialized groups are hired to work in newsrooms, they often face challenges that White journalists don’t necessarily encounter. Tanya Talaga, a Anishinaabe author and journalist with The Toronto Star, argues that Canadian news media outlets systemically “denies employment, promotions, permanent positions, and creative freedoms to journalists of colour, leading many to resign.”[2]

Soraya Roberts, a journalist of colour, explains that in her career of thirteen years in Canadian news media she was never offered a full-time job at a large media company: according to Roberts, “journalists of colour are siloed into multicultural media spaces … or smaller publications [where they] constantly advocate for and are a workplace’s symbol of diversity.”[3] The 2021 Canadian Association of Journalists study found this to be true across the Canadian news industry: 84 percent of White journalists work full time, compared to 64 percent of Black journalists.[4]

Some subfields of news, such as sports journalism, may have even lower rates of representation. Savanna Hamilton, host of “Raptors Today,” estimates that there are only two Black women in Canada who work full-time on air in sports.[5]

A lack of diversity in the newsroom can also cause marginalized or under-represented communities to lose trust in news outlets. An American study identified hiring more Black reporters, connecting with Black communities and diversifying journalists’ perceptions of Blackness as key strategies for winning back trust among Black audiences.[6]

Les animateurs de l’émission The National à CBC en 2022 : Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Adrienne Arsenault et Ian Hanomansing

The hosts of CBC’s The National in 2022: Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Adrienne Arsenault and Ian Hanomansing.

As Angela Steritt of CBC Vancouver put it, “without Black, Indigenous and people of colour working as reporters, as producers, as hosts and as managers, we’re failing our audience, but we are also failing our communities who we have often seen erased out of our coverage, skewed in our coverage or worse – the media has actually perpetuated racism in Canada.”[7]


[1] (2021) Canadian Newsroom Diversity Survey. Canadian Association of Journalists. Retrieved from  https://caj.ca/programs/diversity-survey/current-survey/

[2] Kwak, A (2020). The Colour of Canadian Media. The McGill International Review. Retrieved from https://www.mironline.ca/the-colour-of-canadian-media/

[3] Ibid.

[4] (2021) Canadian Newsroom Diversity Survey. Canadian Association of Journalists. Retrieved from  https://caj.ca/programs/diversity-survey/current-survey/

[5] Flores-Chan, C. (2021) “Levelling the playing field in Canadian sports media.” J-Source. Retrieved from  https://j-source.ca/levelling-the-playing-field-for-racialized-women-in-sports-media/

[6] Kilgo, D. K., Wilner, T., Masullo, G. M., & Bennett, L. K. (2020). News Distrust among Black Americans Is a Fixable Problem. Center for Media Engagement. https://mediaengagement.org/research/news-distrust-among-black-americans.

[7] (2020) Canadian Media Fails to Represent - A Multimedia Recap. Simon Fraser University. Retrieved from https://www.sfu.ca/publicsquare/blog/2020/breaking-news-canadian-media-fails-to-represent-a-multimedia-recap.html

Diversity in Media Toolbox

The Diversity and Media Toolbox is a comprehensive suite of resources that explores issues relating to stereotyping, bias and hate in mainstream media and on the Internet. The program includes professional development tutorials, lesson plans, interactive student modules and background articles.

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