ONA Weekly #316: Canadian Journalists Collaborating To Address Systemic Racism

By on July 8, 2020

From the Board: Collaborating to address systemic racism

We asked the ONA Board of Directors for their perspectives on journalism’s next move to address systemic racism, discrimination and representation of Black and other journalists of color in the industry.

Toronto-based media strategist Anita Li expressed conviction on the importance of collaboration. Here’s what she shared about her current efforts with Canadian Journalists of Color (CJOC).

In late 2018, I co-founded a grassroots organization called Canadian Journalists of Colour, a community of more than 700 Indigenous, Black and POC media workers across Canada. The group offers a supportive environment for journalists of colour to talk about the industry — whether that’s working through story ideas, sharing resources, posting job opportunities, offering mentorship or brainstorming solutions to problems facing our industry.

On Jan. 28, 2020, CJOC and the Canadian Association of Black Journalists released seven Calls to Action to strengthen newsroom diversity in Canada. It was our way of calling on industry peers to collaborate on these calls-to-action with us. They quickly spread in the Canadian media industry, with my announcement tweet alone attracting hundreds of engagements from high-profile journalists, media unions, journalism educators, as well as members of the news-consuming public in Canada and around the world. There was also plenty of media coverage, but establishment media institutions — those that are supposed to lead industry conversations like this — remained silent.

Fast forward to June 2020, as George Floyd’s death continued to spark protests around the world. CJOC resurfaced our calls-to-action and captured the attention of the major media organizations that previously ignored them. So far, broadcaster Global NewsThe Globe and MailThe Toronto Star and The Walrus have publicly endorsed and committed to the actions we outlined. In addition, executive management at both legacy and emerging media outlets across Canada contacted CJOC and CABJ to consult us on implementation. Now we are meeting to hold them accountable and to help them develop a short-term and long-term roadmap for how to institutionalize diversity and inclusion at all levels of their respective organizations.

I feel strongly that the success of our calls-to-action is due to CJOC and CABJ’s solutions-oriented and collaborative approach to addressing the issue of systemic racism in Canadian journalism. We offered a clear path forward by outlining actionable steps that media organizations can take.

Last week we heard from Student Representative Aiyana Ishmael about how unpaid internships widen the opportunity gap faced by young journalists of color. She also emphasized anti-racism and allyship as daily practice, not a “one-and-done type of movement.”

We’ll see you back here next week for insights from Versha Sharma, ONA Board Secretary and Managing Editor & Senior Correspondent at NowThis, on accountability for newsroom leaders.

Nominate someone for the ONA Community Award

The ONA Community Award honors a person or small team who has made outsized contributions, often behind the scenes, to advance the digital journalism industry. We want to hear from you about the people who empower digital journalists to do greater work — the ones who go above and beyond to champion other journalists’ ideas, help develop future leaders, support teams on trailblazing projects, transform newsrooms and more. ONA members are invited to submit nominations now through Thursday, July 30, 11:59 p.m. ET.

What journalism can learn from student newsrooms

MJ Bear Fellow Taylor Blatchford has been following innovations among student newsrooms for almost two years as part of her work writing The Lead, a newsletter for student journalists. What she’s found: Student newsrooms are finding solutions to some of the same issues the larger journalism industry is facing — such as examining staff diversity, embracing experiments and seeking audience feedback — with only a fraction of the resources. Read what the journalism industry can learn from student newsrooms.

We’re hiring a Digital Content Consultant

We’re looking for a Digital Content Consultant to assist with content management, graphic design and video production associated with ONA’s web properties and new virtual training events. This job will be perfect for someone wanting to build their WordPress portfolio, contribute their creative ideas and support the global journalism community. Due to the demands of our annual conference we anticipate the heaviest workload will occur at the end of September through early October. Apply by July 15.

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Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

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