The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is pleased to announce the launch of our inaugural Canadian Newsroom Diversity Survey—Canada’s first representative survey of diversity in media. The survey comes following three years of consultations with experts in survey design and media diversity and will help tell a story—with hard data—about who works in Canadian media. 

The deadline to complete the survey has been extended to June 4, 2021.

The CAJ thanks the following newsrooms for completing the survey well in advance of the deadline.

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Why is this information being collected?

There is widespread consensus around the need for Canadian media to reflect the society it serves. But addressing representation, or lack thereof, in the industry requires that we measure the level of diversity in newsrooms across Canada.

In the U.S., the News Leaders Association (NLA) has conducted a national diversity survey since 1978. It is past time for Canada to do the same.

How did this survey come together? 

The CAJ has spent the past three years consulting with survey design experts, international partners that conduct media diversity surveys in their countries, and Canadian organizations and individuals in Canada that have studied the diversity of our country’s media ecosystem. The NLA, which has conducted a survey in the U.S. since 1978, provided invaluable support in designing this survey. 

This survey, which we hope to conduct annually, is designed to be easy to fill out. It asks for information that most Canadian media organizations have already collected or that they typically collect during hiring. The information is also easy to collect if it's not already available.

Why are there no questions on class, religion, LGBTQ+ identity, disability or languages spoken? 

All of these are important lines of inquiry and ones which the CAJ would like to poll newsrooms on in future years for subsequent iterations of the survey. With the goal of maximizing participation, the survey asks newsroom leaders for information that they have already collected or that they typically collect during hiring. The information is also easy to collect if it's not already available.

To collect data on LGBTQ+ identity, for example, managers would need to ask employees how they identify, potentially putting staff in the difficult position of having to come out to their manager. The CAJ is exploring models to get around this. For example, The U.S. Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists runs an excellent survey which relies on members of its association to opt-in to answering extra questions as part of the NLA’s survey. 

Who is being sent this survey?

The survey is being sent to the editor-in-chief, or their equivalent, at radio, television, digital, and print outlets across the country. For transparency, a full copy of the survey text is publicly available here. If you are a newsroom leader that did not receive an editable survey copy, please contact [email protected] and we will send you one. 

How did the CAJ decide which categories to use for the questions on race and gender? 

The categories are adapted from a Statistics Canada model. This model is used by many newsrooms which collect data on the race and gender of their employees when hiring. 

We have diverged from the Statistics Canada model in instances where the categories are not only incorrect but could generate misleading results. For example, Statistics Canada doesn't offer "non-binary" as a potential gender category, instead only offering the options "man" and woman". There are two other changes: 1) The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network advised that the use of the term Aboriginal as categorized by Statistics Canada is outdated and should be changed to Inuit, Metis, First Nations (status or non-status); 2) The Canadian Association of Black Journalists asked that "Haitian" be flagged as an example in the "Black" category not the "Latin" category and that “South and Central American” be changed to “Afro-Latino”.

When are responses due?

As an organization representing working journalists the CAJ knows how busy media workers are. That’s why we’re giving newsroom leaders over four months to respond. The CAJ is asking newsrooms to send in responses by Friday June 4, 2021. 

Which data will be made public? 

The numbers at the newsroom level will be made public for all outlets that have over five full time employees. For example, the number of women on staff compared with the number of men on staff will be disclosed. For outlets with fewer than five employees, a breakdown at the newsroom level will not be disclosed, but data from these outlets will be included in the aggregate results. 

Short answer questions will only be disclosed in aggregate, anonymized form for all outlets, regardless of employee number.Here’s an example of how the NLA breaks out data which the CAJ intends to follow: How Diverse Are US Newsrooms?

Who will have access to the non-public data?

Only CAJ staff and select board members will have access to the non-public data. It will not be made public under any circumstances. 

Does collecting this data contravene human rights laws?

No. Many newsrooms already collect this data. For those that do not, the Canadian Human Rights Act states that it is not a discriminatory practice to collect information relating to a prohibited ground of discrimination so long as the information is being collected to combat discrimination. 

Organizations have tried to conduct diversity surveys of journalists before. Why will this time be different? 

In 1994, the Canadian Daily Newspaper Association surveyed managing editors from 82 newsrooms. Half did not respond. In 2016, Canadaland sent a survey to 18 of the largest newspapers. Three replied. Author Vicky Mochama’s write up on the survey concludes with the line: “Refusal to disclose data on this problem makes solving it impossible.” 

The CAJ has spent the past three years carefully studying every diversity survey ever conducted in Canada, as well as many international examples, to come up with what we believe is a survey that is both fair and easy to fill out. The CAJ will be reaching out to newsrooms privately and publicly to encourage participation. We are also privileged to be working with many partner organizations that have offered to distribute the survey. Ultimately, though, whether this time is different is up to all of us. 

Who can I contact to ask a question that’s not listed here? 

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]