CBC/Radio-Canada launches initiatives to support diversity, local journalism

7 October 2020

Public media must be responsive. This week, CBC/Radio-Canada responded to public needs and concerns with two initiatives: the HireBIPOC project and the Local News Matters directory.
Logo: CBC/Radio-Canada

On 5 October, the Canadian public broadcaster and PMA member announced that it was taking meaningful action against systemic racism in screen-based industries with its collaboration on HireBIPOC, a newly launched initiative that ensures a more inclusive media workforce – both in front of and behind the camera.

In announcing the project, CBC/Radio-Canada’s President and CEO, Catherine Tait said, “CBC/Radio-Canada is committed to supporting all industry efforts to advance the inclusion and representation of Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Latinx talent in our creative communities and original programming. Resources like this new database will ensure greater access and exposure for more racially diverse producers and creatives, both in front of and behind the camera, in order to better reflect our country across all areas of the industry.”

Read more: Diversity and Public Media

The initiative creates meaningful change around hiring practices across all areas of the industry, including production, communications and marketing, executives, behind the scenes, and on-air. The collaborative project includes more than 20 Canadian media organisations and includes an online roster with over 500 already-registered members.

The initiative launches in a year defined by worldwide Black Lives Matter protests which emanated from the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on 25 May. The killing and protests have brought into sharp relief race relations around the world and the need for global reflection on diversity.

In a press release, Nathalie Younglai, Founder, BIPOC TV & FILM, said: “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that now is the time for brave steps towards radical change. HireBIPOC is one step amongst many, in order to transform the face of our industry. We need measurable commitments to hiring more Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. We all have a circle of influence and it is up to each one of us to use it”.

Last week, CBC/Radio-Canada also announced two new fellowships for Black journalists in partnership with the Canadian Journalism Foundation. Over a six-month period, the fellowship will provide mentoring and training in video and audio editing, writing, research, and investigative reporting.

Local News Matters

Meanwhile, CBC/Radio-Canada also announced the launch of Local News Matters, an online directory that allows Canadians to “find and support local media serving their communities”. The directory’s launch not only coincides with Canada’s National Newspaper Week (October 4-10) but also comes at a time when news organisations are particularly challenged, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Michael Goldbloom, Chair of the Board of CBC/Radio-Canada, “As misinformation about COVID-19 spreads like wildfire, especially on social media, we are seeing the vital role that trusted local journalism plays across the country. Support for local news organisations has never been more important.”

Despite providing alternative sources of news, the directory offers an important public service in directing audiences to locally relevant news and information as well as contributing to pluralism in the media landscape, both of which are key public service media values.

The Public Media Alliance highly commends these new initiatives as demonstrating the innovative, collaborative, and responsive steps public media can take to adapt according to societal concerns and crises.

Featured image: CBC Television logo, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Credit: Shaun/istock