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I read this blog post last week and something just clicked. I wrote a comment – and finally made the leap. I decided to start a blog. This blog. And in honour of the blog that finally pushed me over the edge, I will re-post somewhat re-worked comments I left on Bojan’s Blog.

But not before I thank all the female feminist bloggers I’ve been reading over the previous months and years, women whose voices articulated for the first time experiences, responses and anger I couldn’t own for myself, and will only be able to own slowly, as I learn to get used to ‘hearing’ the sound of my own voice. But more on that in another entry.

First up: Diversity in Journalism. This study concludes that there is a serious lack of diversity in the newsroom, and even worse, no real attempt to correct the problem, or even a feeling that it is a problem. This in an industry that purports to reflect the world back to us, to give us the unbiased ‘truth’; this in the industry in which I work.

An immigrant himself, Bojan wrote about discrimination within the media industry, about the reluctance of editors to hire a ‘foreigner’.

Or, a woman, I would add – as women account for 34 percent of all daily newspaper employees across Canada.

Why?

Without looking at in-your-face racism, I think it’s about comfort level.
The people hiring are often looking for people with whom they can be comfortable, people who reflect the world back to them in a way they can understand: it’s harder to make this connection with someone who has had different life experiences, different colour of skin, or an accent. Or, I would add, it is harder for older, white men to make connections with genders, races and experiences different than their own because they’ve never had to before. These have rarely had to imagine or understand the world of any other race or gender: every movie they’ve watched, every book they’ve read, every newspaper article is about their lives.

Still, I think that for a while many editors did get that they should hire for diversity.
What they didn’t get was that hiring for diversity means they need to hire outside their comfort zone, outside their breadth of sight. That is why when minorities and women are hired at many organizations, they have often been ‘assimilated’ or, as my fellow j-school grads would say with a laugh, ‘interpolated’: They may be somewhat different, but not too much and at their core they approach the world from a some sort of shared view.

A while back I wrote an e-mail to my one-time journalism professor.

Among other subjects I wrote how it can be difficult as a woman to enter newsrooms where your editors and male colleagues speak jock-ese and respect others who speak that male-centric language and do not see the value in stories from a female vision. Add a different skin colour and an accent and the distance is even harder to bridge.

Risk is a part of it too: as journalists we are supposed to be risk takers.

In reality most news organizations really aren’t. The fact that an immigrant can write in his or her second or third or fourth language – and all the amazing experience that implies – doesn’t matter when they see a misplaced article or a sentence structure that isn’t strictly English. And that beside your typical J-school monolingual grad who can’t spell, or continually makes grammatical mistakes: but those are okay mistakes, but those are the same mistakes the editors have made or the same mistakes his or her kids have made, they understand those mistakes, can work with those mistakes…

Anyway, my professor wrote back to me that he firmly believes the future of journalism has to make room for truly different voices, make room for journalists who don’t fit the mold – otherwise it cannot survive.

See why I love the guy?

Still, if this study is to be taken seriously, most of Canada’s daily news organizations have stopped trying to be inclusive.

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