IN THE CJMS: Gender politics in child care reporting, news media portrayal of Muslim women and more

The November 2008 issue of the Canadian Journal of Media Studies (Vol. 4, No. 1) includes several articles of interest to the journalism community, including:

Baby Talk: How gender issues affected media coverage of the child-care debate in the last federal election by Dianne Rinehart, Carleton University
Child-care issues have traditionally been covered by female social affairs journalists in Canada, not political beat reporters – who are overwhelmingly male. This paper looks at what happened when a child-care platform became the main issue in the 2006 federal election campaign, and how and why the media failed to analyse its shortcomings.

The Weak, the Powerless, the Oppressed: Muslim women in Toronto media by Ashifa Kassam, York University
After years of invisibility, Muslim women are now the focus of considerable media attention. But what is the coverage saying about Muslim women in Canada? This paper examines coverage of Canadian Muslim women in mainstream Toronto media and, in particular, media coverage of the Ontario government’s decision about whether Islamic law, known as Shari’a, should be allowed in the province. It argues that the coverage stripped Muslim women living in Canada of plurality, diversity and agency.

Rethinking Journalism as a Profession by Paul Godkin, Conestoga College
There is no significant body of theoretical knowledge considered vital to the practice of journalism. So, can other standards of competency substitute for this esoteric knowledge? Could the standard of theoretical knowledge be expanded to recognize professional competency instead? Doctors and lawyers cannot practice without a firm grasp of the theory underlining their profession. A key to defining a profession then is no doubt establishing an understanding of what professional practice means in terms of knowledge and competency.

Lynch Mob: Pack journalism and how the Jessica Lynch story became propaganda by Peter H. Martyn, Carleton University
The arc of U.S. media coverage of the Jessica Lynch story, from an exercise in follow-the-leader patriotism through qualified questioning to outright skepticism, is well known. This paper re-examines the coverage of this early “hero” of the war in Iraq through the lens of classical propaganda theory and recent psychological studies that suggest repeated denials may actually increase the residual credibility of false information in the minds of many members of the public.

Journalism in a Violent World by Cliff Lonsdale, University of Western Ontario
A report from the inaugural conference of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma