To be or not to be ethnic media

Panelists at a recent Toronto event weigh in on the use of the term “ethnic” to refer to the growing phenomenon that is multicultural media. Is it a label to be proud of, or an archaic term that’s due to be cast aside?

At a recent event hosted by the Canadian Journalism Foundation—The Rise of “Ethnic Media”— panellists shared their views on how they see themselves in relation to the so-called “mainstream media”:

 “I am proud of the word ethnic. I think it’s an important word. It distinguishes us from other media organizations and I think it’s important to have that distinction, and as a second-generation Canadian, I call myself ethnic and I’d be delighted to challenge anyone in that regard.”
–Madeline Ziniak, Canadian Ethnic Media Association executive chair and OMNI Television national vice president

“I came to Canada when I was 12 years old. I know what my parents went through and I know how difficult it was for them to become a part of Canada. They didn’t come to Canada to be Italian; they came to Canada to be Canadian, so I don’t personally have an issue with the word “ethnic,” but I do believe that the term is derisive. It sort of says, “us and them.” I think we should think twice before labeling these people under the category of ethnic, because if that’s the case, then we have the English, we have the French, we have the Natives and then we have the ethnic, and that’s certainly not the country I envision.”
–Lori Abittan, president and CEO of Multimedia Nova Corporation

“Whatever we’re now calling ethnic media will pretty soon be mainstream media.”
–Jagdish Grewal, editor and publisher of Punjabi Post

“The (different) language is the fundamental reason for our existence. Recently, I received a voice mail from a reader who just wanted to say thank you. After reading an article on computer applications, it solved his problem because he can’t speak English. I think that to provide accurate information for those who can’t read English is really important.”
–Shirley Chan, managing editor of the magazine supplements, Ming Pao Daily News

“It would be my hope that when people think of media they don’t think ethnic media/mainstream media – they eventually think of all of the media including what we now consider to be the ethnic media, multilingual media. I think that requires a sort of cultural shift, a personal transformation in terms of our view of the landscape.”
–Noëlle Richardson, Chief Diversity Officer of the Ontario Public Service

What do you think of the term “ethnic media”?

View a webcast of the Canadian Journalism Foundation event The Rise of “Ethnic Media.” to hear more about these diverse organizations.