Visible Minority Media - Barriers and Challenges

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

Claire Cossée describes several of these struggles [1]:

  • Minority groups often must 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 minority group achieves a stronger media presence or an improved public image, this does not necessarily translate to improved rights or living conditions.
  • Many minority groups lack the financial or social resources to establish a media presence.

Visible minority media in Canada also faces a variety of criticisms. Nearly all Canadian channels that cater to minority groups rely heavily on imported content, and much original content is of poor quality. Fairchild, for instance – the largest Chinese-language news broadcaster in Canada – depends almost entirely on footage bought from other sources and provides little or no analysis of news. In some cases there are concerns about the objectivity of the news being reported: media commentator Gloria Fung has speculated that the Chinese government has taken advantage of the financial instability of some Chinese-Canadian media to influence coverage of events such as protests in Tibet and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. [2]

Further, there are some concerns that minority media may not actually help to make Canada a more multicultural nation. Members of minority groups tend to favour visible minority media over mainstream media: according to a 2009 study, Chinese speakers in Vancouver, including those who spoke fluent English, preferred Chinese language newspapers to English newspapers by a margin of at least two to one. [3] This study has several implications. Not only are English-language media poorly serving minority audiences, but audiences are also, by not consuming mainstream media, isolating themselves from mainstream Canadian culture. In addition, this focus on media for and by minorities could be interpreted by mainstream media as lessening its responsibility to portray these communities any more frequently or accurately.

Canadian visible minority media needs to better reflect Canada’s growing multicultural community, although this process is often hampered by extremely limited resources. In order for minority media representations to continue to help build tolerance and acceptance of Canada’s diverse cultural milieu, consideration must be given to both a minority group’s social and political context and the social and political context of the broader majority.

The National Ethnic Press and Media Council has examined the future of visible minority media representation and visible minority media in Canada. It outlines two central goals that future Canadian broadcasting should consider:

  1. Building capacity for members of visible minority media to express themselves by empowering them through technical assistance, training, financial aid, and allied help.
  2. Integrating visible minority media into mainstream media, enabling the former to become a tool to shape Canadian public policy.


[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] Yip, Joyce . “State of Disarray .” Ryerson Review of Journalism Summer (2010). Print.
[3] Fairchild Television. Canadian Chinese Media Monitor - Greater Toronto Area. Toronto: Ipsos Reid - Fairchild Television, 2007. Print.

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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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