WHITE PAPER ON LESSONS FOR A POST-PANDEMIC RECOVERY:
THE ROLE OF ETHNIC MEDIA OUTREACH AND ANALYSIS
Preface: What is this White Paper about?
This paper originated with a series of Conference notes for internal use from the 23rd Metropolis Conference, held from March 22-26, 2021, on Migrants, Migration and Mobility. As the pandemic continues to occupy the front and centre of national and international discourse, we decided to share our thoughts with a wider audience, since we at MIREMS - Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services - are privy to a unique source of intelligence on ethnic media by way of the daily monitoring and tracking of hundreds of multilingual media outlets we do for our clients.
We were searching for ways to share our learning when the Multiculturalism @50: Diversity, Inclusion and Eliminating Racism, Metropolis Canada’s 4th Annual Forum on Measuring Identities, presented us with an excellent opportunity to do so. Much thanks to the organizers for this.
For those who are interested, this paper is part of a workshop at the conference titled “Ethnic Media Outreach for Professionals: Strengthening DE&I Initiatives by Engaging Multicultural Community Media”, prepared in collaboration with the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) New Canadian Media (NCM) and Andrew Griffith (Multicultural Meanderings).
The purpose of the workshop is to stimulate the understanding that multicultural media is key to any action on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in real time.
Madeline Ziniak, Director, CEMA, addresses the history and causes of organized ethnic media; George Abraham, Publisher, New Canadian Media, talks about ethnic journalism then and now; Silke Reichrath, Editor-in-Chief, MIREMS, tells us what we would find if we could read thirty languages and join the multilingual conversation; Andrew Griffith, fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and the Environics Institute, former director general of Citizenship and Multiculturalism (now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), addresses ethnic media reactions today in the context of grass roots strategic communications; Blythe Irwin, Sources and Outreach Director, MIREMS, talks about getting to know and reaching out to your ethnic media; and MIREMS President Andres Machalski shares lessons learned in forty-four years of ethnic media relations.
The basic thesis of our presentation is that multilingual media is a cornerstone of multiculturalism. Language together with image and sound are key components of culture, and media, which has all three of these elements, is one of the most relevant metrics for measuring identities and their position in the Canadian demographic mosaic. Ethnic media is a source for direct research of attitudes and opinions, and more importantly, a way of reaching those multilingual audiences through a known and trusted media source instead of through pretty posters that lack distribution.
In fact, it is in dealing with ethnic community outreach that Canadian media philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” acquires even greater relevance when the challenge is rendering language barriers transparent, while avoiding the dangers of direct, culturally insensitive translation.
Bottom line, ethnic media relations and outreach are effective because they are culturally and emotionally affective.
For communicators trying to tackle multilingual communications the tendency is to shy away from understanding the audience and concentrate on the message. While it is not wrong to focus on getting the right message across, the effectiveness of the message will depend on how it resonates with the audience’s reality and cultural framework. The tendency is to talk “at” speakers of languages other than ours, rather than talk “with” them.
Working with multilingual journalists is an excellent way of bridging that gap. We hope this paper helps you do so. Enjoy, and let us know what you think.
Andres Machalski, President, MIREMS
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