Data submitted by 209 newsrooms shows racialized journalists concentrated in part-time and internship roles

In an overwhelmingly white industry, racialized journalists are less likely to hold full-time or leadership roles, according to a new national survey of race in media organizations across Canada.

White journalists comprise at least eight out of 10 supervisory roles, while representation of racialized journalists increases in part-time and internship positions. “Almost half of all Canadian newsrooms exclusively employ white journalists,” according to the survey report.

The data, which was collected by the Canadian Association of Journalists between November 2020 and July 2021, was submitted by leadership at 209 mostly English-language newsrooms. 

“At a high level what numbers show is there’s got to be serious candid conversations that will have to happen about this that will be uncomfortable. I think it’s good to see how many newsrooms responded at the same time,” said CAJ president Brent Jolly.

Three hundred and seventy-nine newsrooms did not respond, according to the report.  The majority of the respondents were in written media, with APTN, ONFR+, CBC and TVO among the only broadcasters to participate. No large French newsrooms submitted newsroom data. Multilingual and ethnic media were not approached directly.

Race data is unknown for 965 of the 3,873 journalists included in the survey results.

The survey, which used the gender categories man, woman and non-binary, found women in the majority across newsrooms, but that “the presence of more women in newsrooms is largely driven by part-time and internship roles.”

According to the CAJ report: 

  • While nationally, 74.9 per cent of journalists reflected in data identify as white compared with 73.2 per cent among the overall Canadian population, the typical, Canadian newsroom is much whiter at 100 per cent. “In other words, many of the national averages on diversity are being driven by a handful of large
  • Newsrooms that employ a large number of reporters and tend to be less white than the audiences they serve, whereas most Canadian newsrooms tend to be whiter.
  • Almost half of all Canadian newsrooms exclusively employ white journalists. Where visible minority and Indigenous reporters are on staff, they tend to be concentrated in a handful of large newsrooms.
  • Black and Middle Eastern journalists are twice as likely to work part-time jobs as full-time jobs.
  • 79.6 per cent of outlets report having no visible minorities or Indigenous journalists in one of the top three leadership roles in their newsroom.
  • 40 per cent of Middle Eastern journalists, 47.3 per cent of Black journalists and 50 per cent of Latin journalists work at the CBC. Eighty-four per cent of newsrooms employ no Indigenous journalists. Of those that do, 74.8 per cent work at either the CBC or the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
  • the representation of visible minority journalists increases among part-time and internship roles. For example, Black and Middle Eastern journalists are twice as likely to be working part-time jobs as full-time ones. More than a quarter of all interns identify as Asian, compared to 9.1 per cent of full-time journalists
  • Representation of women and non-binary journalists also increases among part-time and internship roles. For example, women make up 61 per cent of part-time employees and 64.9 per cent of interns. Non-binary journalists account for 0.9 per cent of part-time roles and 8.1 per cent of interns.

The CAJ explains that because it relied on data already collected by newsroom management, further information beyond race and gender such as disability and 2SLGBTQ+ identity is not reflected in its inaugural report. 

Changes to next year’s survey may better address how individual news organizations format and collect staff information. As a result of such discrepancies between newsroom collection and the CAJ survey, the results undercount Toronto Star and Postmedia in national averages.

Survey results can be sorted in an online graphic by newsroom, race, gender and role.

The full report is available on the CAJ’s website.