Racially and Culturally Diverse Media - Barriers and Challenges

Although the benefits of diverse media are considerable, the creation process can be riddled with challenges.

Claire Cossée describes several of these struggles:

  • Diverse groups must often overcome a history of denial or misrepresentation, which frequently involves addressing contentious historical and political factors contributing to group exclusion.
  • Public perceptions of minority groups are often negative.
  • Dignity and liberation may not easily be regained from an oppressed social position.
  • Even if a racialized group achieves a stronger media presence or an improved public image, this doesn’t necessarily translate to improved rights or living conditions.
  • Many groups lack the financial or social resources to establish a media presence.[1]

Racially and culturally diverse media in Canada also face a variety of challenges. Nearly all Canadian channels that cater to historically under-represented groups groups rely heavily on imported content. In 2017, Rogers launched the channel OMNI Regional amid controversy that it was breaching CRTC conditions that granted the broadcaster a lucrative mandatory carriage licence. Groups such as the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic argued that “by outsourcing its Chinese-language programming to a competitor, Rogers has reduced the diversity of voices for ethnic communities.” Nigel Bariffe, president of the Urban Alliance, stated that “not only should the news be produced in Canada, but Rogers Media should produce it.” A Rogers spokesperson said that production was being contracted out to Vancouver-based Fairchild Television, which broadcasts in Mandarin and Cantonese. Response to this move was that “handing off production … to Fairchild TV means eliminating the opportunity for differing views and possibly reducing access to local news by our communities.”[2]

Further, there are some concerns that minority media may not actually help make Canada a more multicultural nation. Sherry Yu, of the University of Toronto, argues in her 2018 book that definitions of ethnic media and mainstream media support “the binary framework in which ethnic media is positioned as ‘media for the Other’ and exists in isolation from mainstream media.”[3] Yu argues that there needs to be an “intercultural media system” that would “facilitate a reciprocal flow of information between [mainstream and minority media.]”[4]

Jorge Ramos, a journalist for the American Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, makes a similar point, saying that while members of many communities rely on diverse community media to be informed, defining him as an ethnic media journalist marginalizes him and makes him feel like an outsider. Still, Ramos says, diverse community media is essential because ““We don’t just report the facts, we also understand journalism as a public service.” Ramos is a part of the American Press Institute’s Strategy Studies, which includes an initiative to foster collaborations between diverse community media and mainstream news outlets – similar to the “intercultural media system” Yu proposes.[5]

The National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada has examined the future of racially and culturally diverse media representation and racially and culturally diverse media in Canada. It outlines various objectives that future Canadian broadcasting should consider, which include:

  • Serving as a forum for the study and discussion of barriers faced by ethnic groups, the Press and Electronic Media, and helping them integrate fully into the mainstream society.
  • Gathering and disseminating information which will lead to better understanding and cooperation among the various ethnic groups in Canada and the mainstream society.[6]

[1] Cossée, C. (2010). Médias tsiganes en France et en Hongrie: re-présentation de soi dans l’espace public : Les médias des minorités ethniques: Représenter l’identité collective sur la scène publique. Revue européenne des migrations internationales, 26(1), 57-80.

[2] Wong, T (2017) OMNI Regional launches Sept 1amid controversy over contracting out newscasts. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2017/08/31/omni-regional-launches-sept-1-amid-controversy-over-contracting-out-newscasts.html

[3] Yu, S (2018). Diasporic Media Beyond the Diaspora. UBC Press. Print.

[4] Danylova, A (2020). Media and Culture: Facilitating Intercultural Dialogue. InkSpire. Retrieved from https://inkspire.org/post/media-and-culture-facilitating-intercultural-dialogue/-MCYv4ZigUzPrhhnRqLi

[5] Gerson, D & Rodriguez, C (2018). Going forward: How ethnic and mainstream media can collaborate in changing communities. American Press Institute. Retrieved from https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/strategy-studies/ethnic-and-mainstream-media-collaborations-in-changing-communities/

[6] (2021). National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada: Objectives. Retrieved from https://www.nepmcc.ca/basic/object1.htm