OTTAWA, ON, March 14, 2022 /CNW/ - Canada's first-ever study of immigrant and refugee journalists has revealed that less than one-third of immigrant and refugee journalists are employed in the Canadian media industry. And over one-half of these journalists make less than $40,000 a year.
According to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada has welcomed over 800 permanent residents as "journalists" between 2010 and 2020 through Express Entry and other visa programs. This figure excludes those who have entered the country as asylum seekers or refugees. Even though 85% of migrant and refugee respondents have worked in journalism for over 5 years and 87% would like to continue their career as journalists, many struggle to break into the Canadian media industry due to self-reported issues such as socioeconomic limitations, sparse work opportunities, and language barriers.
Despite the changing demographics of Canada, the media industry has not seen any real shift in being able to attract the talent of journalists from immigrant/ethno-cultural backgrounds in any meaningful way.
The study, titled "Breaking into the Canadian media industry: economic and social barriers for first-generation immigrant and refugee journalists," was conducted by conducted by members of the New Canadian Media (NCM) Collective led by Christopher Chanco, Arzu Yildiz and Alec Regino. The study received 101 detailed, written survey responses and conducted 47 oral interviews, many of which were featured as compelling stories on the NCM website.
The immigrant journalists who responded to our study were a diverse group that hailed from all over the world – a significant number came from India, France, Bangladesh and the Philippines. More than half of respondents were already Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Only 33% reported that they are currently working as journalists.
"This first-of-its-kind study provides remarkable insight into the challenges many immigrants encounter when attempting to find work as journalists in Canada," said Brent Jolly, CAJ president. "It paints a picture of the need for dynamic new approaches, programs, and opportunities to ensure that the rich lived experience of many journalists from around the world, who choose to come to live in Canada, are included in our ongoing national conversations."
Of the refugee journalists, most were from Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Political persecution and violence in their home countries were the main reasons for seeking asylum in Canada. The majority (79%) admitted to having faced financial difficulties at one point or another. Over 60% are unemployed or work as freelancers. Others are working in nonprofits, in education or in other sectors. While all would like to break into the Canadian media industry, all but one are working in sectors other than in journalism.
Interviews with refugee journalists revealed that many of them feel a certain sense of resentment towards their profession given their prison terms, oppression and trials before they got to Canada. On the other hand, they are afraid to speak and write in Canada because they are worried about the safety of their families. Pakistani journalist Mohsin Abbas (who recently revived the Tilbury Times in Ontario) said, "I didn't come here to be a millionaire, I came here to feel safe and have my voice heard. However, I could not find such an opportunity."
All 101 respondents live in the hope of being, one day, allowed to do what they do best – bear witness and write stories.
The study was funded by the Department of Heritage's Collective Initiatives Fund.
NCM will be holding a Virtual Colloquium on April 2 to share the results of the study and discuss the implications for the media industry in Canada. Register here.
SOURCE New Canadian Media
For further information: Daniela Cohen, Assistant Editor (Special Projects) at [email protected].