“Is it Fateeema?” asked two editors interviewing me in a boardroom much too big for a three-person meeting. I tried to impress them with three story ideas: something about transit, something about local politics and something about immigration. They asked follow-up questions about the third one—How did I think of the story? What are the main issues? How would the story come together?—even though I thought the second was better developed and delivered.

For the first time, I was concerned that becoming a journalist in Canada might mean accepting that I would probably be placed in a box. It’s a box many people have written about and many still live in. Historically, these voices are rarely heard, so now every time I don’t get a job, I wonder if it has anything to do with my name or my ethnicity.

For too long, the white landscape of Canadian journalism has stood on excuses, such as:

  • “We don’t get a diverse pool of applicants.”
  • “We couldn’t find anyone qualified.”
  • “We don’t have the resources.”
  • “It’s just the way things are.”
  • “We tried our best.”

When did the conversation get stuck on repeat? …

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About the author

Fatima Syed is the blog editor of the spring 2016 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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