By Priya Ramanujam for New Canadian Media
At a time when national and local mainstream media seem to be downsizing and shutting down daily, where does Canada’s ethnic media fit in? And how will these outlets survive?
The 2015 Canadian edition of the Global Media Journal, edited by Rukhsana Ahmed, explores these questions with five research papers that “address challenges and opportunities multicultural (ethnic) media present to immigrant integration.”
Across the board, one sentiment is clear: when considering both its multiculturalism and national media policy, Canada must keep ethnic media in mind.
Brampton’s ethnic media bridges cultural divides
It takes more than receiving a press release from the municipal government to ensure ethnic media report on city affairs, according to a case study by Ryerson University’s April Lindgren. In her study, “Municipal Communication Strategies and Ethnic Media: A Settlement Service in Disguise”, she suggests the city of Brampton is leading the pack in understanding this.
Interestingly, a decade ago, a similar study deemed the city of Brampton unresponsive to the needs of its immigrant community.
So what changed?
Lindgren cites 2006, when the city transitioned from being a multiracial city with various visible minority groups making up over 50 per cent of its demographic to a city with a dominant South Asian — specifically Punjabi-speaking Indo-Canadian — population as a turning point of sorts.
This is when growing concern emerged from long-time residents about newcomers and the city recognized a need to amplify its ethnic media reach in order to mitigate brewing conflict.
The resulting strategy included hiring an ethnic media coordinator who had to speak Punjabi, standardizing advertising buys across a number of approved ethnic media outlets and translating all communications material into Punjabi and Hindi (as well as Urdu and Portuguese).
While it wasn’t all smooth sailing — for example, some papers thought the press releases were paid advertisements and invoiced the city for them — Lindgren concludes that municipalities that follow Brampton’s lead will find they are actually “providing a settlement service in the guise of a communication policy.”