Media: When Opportunity Knocks…

Chances are, "opportunity" was high on your list of reasons to come to Canada. So you know to "open the door" when opportunity "knocks." If you're not familiar with this expression, it suggests that opportunity appears in many forms – even as a problem – and you may miss or not recognize it unless you are open to new ideas and experiences. Since this column deals with media, let's look at how you can benefit from being open to new ideas and experiences about print, broadcast or electronic (internet) media.

Maybe you are from a country where the government controlled what the media said? This experience might lead you distrust any media. Regular readers of this column will know that the broadcast media in Canada are regulated by a government body called the CRTC. Print media are similarly watched over, and certain rules (and even laws) require Canada's ethnic and cultural diversity to be portrayed, "accurately, fairly and without stereotypes." (Please see issues 36 and 39 of Canadian Newcomer).

The Canadian government and other services will get involved when rules are broken, but government does not tell media what to say. (If you see a broken rule and want to make a complaint, please also see issue 39.)

If we agree that the media in Canada have a responsibility to serve you, the audience – then it would seem to follow that you, in the audience, owe it to yourself to be open to receiving their messages. Reminder: You can't know what opportunities are knocking unless you open the door! Okay, now that the door is open, what's in it for you? Can can ethnic media help you, the newcomer, when you first arrive? How? I invited answers to this question from across the country

"Stories, interpretation of issues and editorial perspective from ethnic media all contribute to the development of understanding of Canadian values for the newcomer," says Madeline Ziniak, Chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association and National Vice President of OMNI Television. "It also serves as an excellent tool for networking within the ethnocultural community and larger society."

Alden Habacon, Director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development at UBC and Publisher of Schema Magazine, acknowledges the importance of ethnic media "for the mental health of newcomers," but expresses concern about its "potential to encourage newcomers to never leave their comfort zone."

If you are open to interacting with today's media, the answers are out there in whatever language you need or prefer.

Ultimately, whether one is open – or closed – is a personal decision. Is it time to for you to open the door?

Sandy Zwyer
Sandy Zwyer has over 30 years' professional experience in media, including more than a decade as Programme Information Coordinator for OMNI Television, where she managed viewer and media relations. Sandy is a member of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association and has an understanding of Canadian ethnocultural communities along with a thorough knowledge of multilingual/multicultural television and broadcast regulations.