I had the pleasure of attending Racism in the Newsroom, a conference that sought to address racial issues within the journalism industry. The conference not only addressed racism that directly occurs in the workplace but also how journalists can effectively report on stories that cover racism. Overall this conference was extremely helpful in how I can be a better reporter, and was also a reminder to me that journalism, like many industries, still have a long way to go in creating a safe and supportive work environment for POC communities.
The key lesson I learned from this conference came from the afternoon session when a panelist discussed the friction between the nature of the job itself and the ability of a reporter to gain access to a community being reported on. For example, the panelist discussed how many POC communities may have negative experiences of outsiders or media professionals and that it is essential for the reporter to take their time in introducing themselves and explaining the structure of the interview or story being published. The panelist noted that in order to have a conversation with, for example, Indigenous community members, journalists have to be willing to spend time with the community prior to ever pulling out a camera or recorder. The ability to build a relationship and trust with the community, although essential, is difficult to do when the industry operates on a structure of tight deadlines and fast turn-arounds. This conversation really resonated with me because it emphasized that in order for change to occur, not only does there have to be effort made by individual journalists themselves, there also must be an effort made by the management of these outlets too.
My only suggestion for the conference would be to diversify some of the panels to include more journalists from the Black community. I understand that sometimes there may be limited potential panelists available, and the conference did note that they did have a limited amount of voices from the black community on some of their talks. However, it was a bit difficult to hear about the topics of Black Lives Matter and how to report on the complicated issue of police brutality when few panelists could provide a personal perspective. Overall, the conference was very helpful and provided me with tools on how to best navigate stories of race within the Canadian newsroom.