No Country for Young and Minorities

This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

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No wonder Canadian media is laying off people – it's a home for aging white male journalists a case of institutionalized gender bias and minority discrimination while readers are fleeing newspapers and TV in droves.

These two j-Source stories are connected Surprised? Canadian newspaper columnists are mostly male, middle-aged and Layoffs announced at Postmedia and The Globe and Mail.

"Canada's newspaper columnists are mostly male and mostly middle-aged, according to a J-Source survey of 339 columnists.  Among the 73 national columnists surveyed, only 27 per cent are female.  The median age is 58.5…A Gawker survey of American columnists  said "they're old as hell."  j-Source. 

Essentially what the study shows is that the media has institutionalized gender bias and minority discrimination.

Ex-columnist now university professor, Jan Wong said that 10,000 jobs have been lost in new media in the past five years.  You can't blame that on the recession, the internet or bad luck.  There is a tectonic shift happening under the feet of the media establishment.

The old boys club is happy to control and report the news in Canada. There sure as hell aren't many minority journalists, few people of colour, aboriginals and few disabled. I know that one from first hand experience as a banned reporter in a wheelchair. I barely got my blog and press credentials established and CBC/Transcontinental moved to kick me out of the PEI Legislature, starting a 4-year legal battle that CBC seems determined to stick out to the bitter end.

You won't read about the minority discrimination in the media though. Journalists think gender bias is the only issue – why aren't more female journalists getting the good jobs.

Rocking Hound Dog replaces the old dog

In the mid 1950′s,  people were still listening to Patti Page sing "How Much Is That Doggie in the Windows" when Elvis Presley burst on the scene with another kind of dog,  "Hound Dog." The shift was tectonic and there was no going back to the good old days.

Part of the shift in the media today is demographic and part is technology.  Young people,  Gen-X and their cohorts the Millennials, don't want to take the facts from their parents and grandparents. No matter how cool we baby boomers think we were, today we're old fogies to young people. Frankly, they don't trust the media.

All those aging white males don't like the young either.  See Canadians get most of our news from bewildered old men!

The technology shift to the internet is facilitating the shift in audience interest.  When I was 20, I had to read the Globe and Mail, a local paper and watch CBC news even if they were boring.  Today's young people don't even bother with traditional media.  They don't read the newspaper regularly and are more likely to video on their smartphones, tablets and computers than cable TV.   Americans getting more news from Internet

The technology shift is helping them. Young audiences are not watching other TV stations. They are not reading other newspapers. They rarely read any of the old media sources. They go on-line, sharing stories that feel genuine to them through social media. Twitter is the best place to find news not from a pay-walled newspaper.

The aging white media is boxed in by network TV and print newspapers. They are stuck in the past while the audience has moved on.

North American media is dominated by aging white men.  In some areas women are making significant in roads but only if they share the same values as the aging white males. That does not resonate with the audience.

The aging white males who dominate the media are just not with it.  They just don't get it.  Today's audience does not want to watch Peter Mansbridge interview a rock star.  It's like meeting your parents on Facebook. The audience is young and  they don't want to watch Rex Murphy, Peter Mansbridge or Lisa LaFlamme.

CBC won't disappear. Neither will the Globe, CTV or Transcontinental. But they will have to downsize more radically  before  a new equilibrium is achieved. There are no easy answers during this change in the status quo. Diversity might be a place to start.

Featured image credit – Press Progress

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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