Implement a Black-Canadian Reporting course at the Ryerson School of Journalism

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In Canadian Journalism, the Black community and the stories written about them are being published from a place of passive bias. 

A study done by Ryerson on diversity and leadership in the Canadian media industry found that stereotypical narratives about Black people and communities are often framed in journalism with negative and presumptuous undertones. 

These portrayals of Black people are usually from a place of victimization, being illustrated as a “folky-sitcom” type or having villainous tendencies, being crime-related. 

Additionally, the study found there is a strong lack of representation of Black journalists and professionals in the Canadian media sphere, with visible minorities making up under 5% of leadership roles.

Although this study was founded in 2010, many can confirm that not much has changed since then. 

The result of this is Black stories, perspectives, and voices aren’t being given the platforms they equally deserve. Their own narratives are being published by the white writers, editors and producers that make-up mainstream newsrooms, ultimately showing the systemic racism which builds most of our institutions. 

As a solution to this, we demand to see a change in the curriculum and the scholarship/award system for students of Black descent studying at the Ryerson School of Journalism. 

Firstly, we demand that a Black-Canadian reporting course be implemented into the journalism curriculum at Ryerson. We want to see a media-based course that focuses specifically on teaching about how to report on matters related to Black-Canadians. 

This course should cover the history of Black-Canadians and how certain narratives have perpetuated racial biases and injustices not just in societal institutions, but also the media industry and their publications. It should teach about how to deconstruct these biases when reporting on Black communities anywhere around the world. We want the course’s philosophies to stem from a place of empowerment, elevating Black perspectives and stories and understanding the importance and value of them. 

Secondly, we demand more recognition for Black students excelling academically within their program, specifically for those studying at the Ryerson School of Journalism. We want awards and scholarships tailored for the achievements of Black journalism students for their work in a multitude of journalism beats. 

Sign this petition to support Black students’ success in Ryerson’s journalism program and the future of more Black journalists in Canadian media. 

Sign this petition to ensure their stories are heard and valued within mainstream media. 

Sign this petition to support the hiring of more Black faculty and professors, to bring in more Black guest-speakers within the program. 

Sign this petition, to diminish passive biases around Black people and the stories written about them in Canadian media. 

We need to ensure that future students will be better equipped within the industry to be able to tackle issues of race in Canada and to evoke the necessary change needed in the media landscape.

“When it comes to news, who makes the decisions behind the scenes is just as important as whose byline is on the front page.” - pulled from an academic article written by RSJ Graduate Program Director Asmaa Malik and Assistant Professor Sonya Fatah on newsrooms failing to keep up with changing demographics.