From the Editor: Feeling distrustful of Canadian media? Stay attentive

CityNews Toronto reporter, Ginella Massa delivers her keynote speech at NASH 80, the Canadian University Press annual conference in Toronto. Jan. 4, 2018. (Camila Kukulski)

The news bubble which many readers, reporters, and editors commonly find themselves trapped in has not become any less problematic over the past year, despite the anti-news rhetoric that continues to assail us. Unless you’re actively looking for media representations of beliefs that oppose your own, it can be difficult to find an article that is mentally or emotionally challenging but still well-done and dependable.

Readers on the web are often kept comfortably insulated within their online niches through the use of algorithms on sites like Facebook. This perpetuates the existence of the news bubble and leaves community members out of touch with bold journalism that might otherwise change the way that they choose to navigate the world, oftentimes for the better.

For skeptical readers, this is one more reason to distrust publications that push their respective agendas. These institutions create the impression that fair, honest news simply doesn’t exist—that exciting and brave stories aren’t being pitched, commissioned, or written in Canada—which, gratefully, is not true.

Six of The Runner’s staff members flew to Toronto this month to attend a symposium of student journalists in Canada.

The event, titled NASH 80: Connect, invited experts from all over the country to speak to attendees about the greatest successes and challenges of their careers thus far. Some of the most brilliant and inquisitive thinkers in the field were there, alongside many of the nation’s up-and-coming reporters.

From Canada’s western half came some familiar names; The Runner was able to spend quality time with The Capilano Courier, The Ubyssey, SFU’s The Peak, and many others. Beyond that, the conference offered the opportunity to listen to vetted professionals give their advice for working in contemporary media.

On panels and from behind podiums, hundreds of young journalists heard from people like CityNews’ Ginella Massa, The Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle, and Toronto journalist Desmond Cole, all of whom left the audience applauding, humbled, and a little bit smarter.

What NASH communicated above all else was this: there is good journalistic work being done in Canada—work that is meaningful and backed by months of tedious research. But there are also many failings in our media that must be acknowledged and addressed by those both inside and outside of the industry.

As Canada’s first hijab-wearing television news reporter, Massa told the NASH audience about what it means to make space for yourself in your field when the higher-ups aren’t doing it for you. Cole, who examined the racism behind mass media coverage of several incidents in Toronto over the last year, described himself as potentially unemployable for encouraging criticism of the outlets he has contributed to. Doolittle spent 20 months investigating sexual assault cases that had been deemed “unfounded” by Canadian police after noticing that there was a gap in what was being published about the issue. For the sacrifices they made to create these works, the writers made Canadian media more inspiring, thought-provoking, and reflective of society.

To break the news bubble and the false perception that it causes, consumers of Canadian news are responsible for seeking this good work out. It is there and available to you. Look in the nooks and crannies of the journalism world, and when you find a headline that shocks or excites you, read the whole piece. Share it with your friends. Follow the content producers who are dedicated to purposeful and ethical work. You’ll be doing yourself, and us, a favour.

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