Carleton University’s School of Journalism and The Canadian Press have been awarded SSHRC funding for a partnership that seeks to diversify the sources used by Canada’s leading national news service and to help other media outlets give a greater voice to underrepresented communities.

The Canadian Press is partnering with Carleton’s journalism school on the project to identify, track and analyze the news organization’s choice of interview subjects to gain an accurate picture of the diversity of sources (or lack thereof) when it comes to how sources self-identify according to gender, race/ethnicity and, ultimately, other equity-seeking groups.

The ultimate goal is to use the knowledge gained from an examination of journalistic practice in sourcing at The Canadian Press to develop and refine a self-identification survey tool for fostering greater diversity in sourcing that could have broad implications for journalism education and industry practice.

Through the project, Fostering Diversity in Sourcing by Journalists, journalism students from Carleton will be hired as research assistants and will be embedded in CP’s Toronto and Ottawa newsrooms. The research will examine official CP policies, practices and guidance currently in place or in development that are intended to foster equity, diversity and inclusion in sourcing. A primary objective of the research will be to develop and deploy a methodology for tracking sources according to categories of race/ethnicity, gender and other equity-seeking groups using self-identification methods.

The survey tool would help set new standards in both Canadian journalism education and professional practice and would ultimately foster greater inclusiveness in sourcing in news coverage.

The joint research team is led by Prof. Allan Thompson — the head of Carleton’s journalism program— and Joanna Smith, CP’s Ottawa Bureau Chief and co-chair of its editorial equity, diversity and inclusion committee.

The other members of the research team are: former CBC broadcaster Nana aba Duncan, an associate professor and Carleton’s inaugural Carty Chair in Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies; Canadian Press Business Editor Kate Hopwood, a member of CP’s editorial equity, diversity and inclusion committee; magazine writer Brett Popplewell, an assistant professor and head of Carleton’s Future of Journalism Initiative; and former Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News journalist Randy Boswell, an associate professor at Carleton’s journalism school. The research team will also work closely with La Presse Canadienne to explore ways to adapt the methodology and tracking to its French-language services.

Thompson said that for Carleton’s journalism program, fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in journalism education also means doing a better job of identifying how current journalism industry practices must change.

“How journalists source their stories — and the voices they amplify through their reporting — is foundational to our profession,” Thompson said.

Smith said The Canadian Press recognizes that “any effort to have interview sources better reflect the reality of 21st-century Canada must be part of a larger strategy to have its workforce and workplace culture move in the same direction.”

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is a major funder of academic research in Canada. It awarded $25,000 under its Partnership Engage Grants program, which was created to provide short-term and timely support for academic research aimed at informing decision-making at a single partner organization from the public, private or not-for-profit sector.

The small-scale, stakeholder-driven partnerships are meant to respond to immediate needs and time constraints facing organizations in non-academic sectors, and are designed to let non-academic organizations and postsecondary researchers access each other’s unique knowledge, expertise and capabilities on topics of mutual interest.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 in ,
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