Conference examines the role of mainstream and ethnic media

The role of the mainstream and ethnic media will be up for discussion at the 17th annual Metropolis Conference in Vancouver from March 26–28.

Organizers anticipate over 700 participants will attend the conference at the Sheraton Wall, which will also cover topics like immigration and integration policies and practices.

“This conference is the place to have a meaningful conversation about immigration and integration, where researchers, policy makers and service providers share ideas, develop strategies and build new partnerships,” says Jack Jedwab, conference co-chair and president of the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), in a press release.

Role of media

Participants in The Role of Media in Integrating Immigrants workshop include Jagdeesh Mann, Catherine Murray, Peter Klein and Alisa Choi Darcy. The participants will examine how the mainstream and ethnic media in Canada can help make new immigrants feel more engaged in society.

Mann is familiar with working in both the mainstream and ethnic media. He has worked as a new editor in ethnic media for 15 years, writing for the Asian Pacific Post, South Asian Post. He also has experience with mainstream media, including The Province, Vancouver Sun, National Post and CBC.

Mann thinks that the term “mainstream” is becoming antiquated and that it implies homogeneity based on only one type of news consumer.

“Media generates as well as hosts a feed of stories and content that creates a collective narrative,” says Mann.

He says that to feel more engaged, immigrants need to identify with the content being offered.

“While general news content about politics, and the economy engages universally, larger media outlets cannot serve every niche without diluting its masthead,” says Mann.

Mann says ethnic media fills this large and growing space, providing more granular community-oriented news and content.

“These ethnic outlets host conversations that empower participants as they share information, and opinions with peers,” he says.

Darcy brings the perspective of marketing, advertising and media sales to the discussion as she has worked for various ad agencies and sold media for U.S. and Canadian organizations.

Darcy sees the distinct need for both mainstream and ethnic media for immigrants to get a more complete view of the story.

She thinks that the role of the media is to help both Canadian-born and foreign-born respect differences

Alisa Choi Darcy will participate in the workshop The Role of Media in Integrating Immigrants at the Metropolis Conference | Photo courtesy of Alisa Choi Darcy

Alisa Choi Darcy will participate in the workshop The Role of Media in Integrating Immigrants at the Metropolis Conference | Photo courtesy of Alisa Choi Darcy

between their cultures, highlight their similarities and strengthen their bond as Canadian residents by providing balanced reporting while giving context. Ethnic media, Darcy explains, gives the context that needs to be provided to a multi-cultural reader or viewer so they understand and appreciate the story better.

“It provides context from the old world and bridges it to the news in Canada. If ethnic media doesn’t cover a certain story, then immigrants have no choice but to read it in the mainstream media,” says Darcy.

She states that editorial content in mainstream media makes a lot of assumptions – assumptions of knowledge or context – that sometimes people from different cultures do not have.

“If you go to Russia, or China, English publications might make assumptions that you know the context of famous Russian or Chinese singers. There is no context provided in media for those who are not familiar with the culture,” Darcy says.

Focus on substantial issues

Media should be covering stories of more substance instead of focusing so heavily on cultural prejudices, notes Darcy.

“For example, there was a front page story about a luxury multi-million dollar home that was sold by a Caucasian person to a Chinese immigrant. Would that story have made the front page if it was an ordinary Joe Smith who bought it?” says Darcy.

Darcy thinks this story should have been put in the real estate section, but not the front page.

Vancouver has 16.4 per cent of all visible minorities in Canada notes Howard Duncan, executive head in Canada of Metropolis.In 2013, 258,953 new permanent residents arrived in Canada according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and many choose to make their home in the west.

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Panelists include Dr. Catherine Murray, Alisa Choi Darcy, Alden Habacon, Jagdeesh Mann, Randip Janda and Andrew Griffith.
To read their bios. please see: