April 23, 2024

EDI research applied in Canadian journalism

How personally invested should a journalist be in the stories they cover? Doctoral student, Hafsa Maqsood discusses her research.
Hafsa Maqsood, doctoral student in the Department of Communications, Media and Film.

Can a journalist of colour remain objective when writing about controversial topics relating to their ethnic community? Hafsa Maqsood, a doctoral student in the Department of Communications, Media and Film, aims to research these questions surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in Canadian journalism.

Conversations about journalistic integrity when telling the stories of racialized people were put into the forefront when the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the murder of George Floyd in 2020 raised questions about how personally invested a journalist should be and whether that personal investment will cause bias. Maqsood’s research into EDI practices hopes to answer these questions.

“Within the past couple of years, there’s been a reckoning in journalism, in terms of how we perceive objectivity,” says Maqsood. “We saw Black journalists being asked ‘oh, can you truly cover a story on BLM?’ because of the idea that they were ‘too close’ to the issue.” 

“Similarly, post-9/11 and onwards, the Muslim community carries a deep-rooted distrust of public news, given how it has exacerbated Islamophobia.”

Maqsood’s master’s research on Muslim female journalists in Canada found that people from the Muslim community were more likely to trust a Muslim journalist. Additionally, in conversations with other journalists, Maqsood found that stories written by journalists of colour on their own communities gained more readership than thought otherwise by news outlets.

“An Indigenous journalist knows how to approach the Indigenous community and respectfully ask questions a non-Indigenous journalist might not,” Maqsood added. “This shows how journalists of colour can tap into their subjective lived experiences to repair some of that fragmented trust and produce richer journalism.”

Maqsood’s research hopes to address the treatment of the white-perspective as the assumed norm and objective voice, by drawing on the rich cultural-literacy that journalists of colour can provide — resulting not in bias, but in journalism that reflects the perspectives of all people. Maqsood’s latest research is now focusing on the representation of Palestine and the voices of the Palestinian diaspora in news and media.