Audience Perceptions and Identity in 'Marginalized' and ‘Racialized’ Canadian Youth

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This article examines historically underrepresented Canadian youth and their perceptions of mainstream media. It looks at youth perceptions of both themselves and their neighbourhoods in mainstream news in Toronto. How might these perceptions impact their identities? How might these youth be encouraged to participate in the ‘global and local flow’ of communication by accessing and using digital hardware and web 2.0 software tools used to facilitate dialogue and exchange? The Verse City “Be a Journalist for a Day” workshops at the Ryerson University School of Journalism were launched with the aim of getting "visible minorities" and aboriginal youth interested in pursuing careers in news media. The workshops asserted that media literacy and media participation affect levels of civic participation as well as positive perceptions of self for marginalized youth. Specifically, this paper looks at the possibilities and opportunities of broadening and bridging pathways towards a university education to youth who are historically underrepresented in Canadian journalism programs. Other youth media programs in Canada will be looked at and used as examples for discussion. As evidenced through informal conversations during the Verse City workshops, youth in Toronto appear eager to participate in global conversations glamorously depicted through popular culture. At the same time, they have indicated in surveys their awareness of negative depictions of their neighbourhoods in the mainstream press. In “Solace,” a community magazine by youth, an author writes, “the love that these communities share is more than anyone could ever ask for. Yet in the media you very rarely read or see anything positive about these communities.” Or simply put, in one student’s survey: “There are never any positive stories about [my neighbourhood].”


Keywords: Racialization and Media, Youth, Youth Empowerment, Media Education, Audience Perceptions of Mainstream Media, At Risk Youth, Marginalized Youth, Racialized Youth, Digital Media, Web 2.0, Digital Divide
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Vinita Srivastava

Assistant Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Vinita Srivastava is an assistant professor at the Ryerson University School of Journalism. Previously she was a research editor at the New York Times Magazine. She has reported for numerous publications including Vibe magazine, the Village Voice and Savoy. She was co-host and producer of the Asia Pacific Forum on WBAI Radio, NYC. The United Nations Association in Canada lists her children’s book, A Giant Named Azalea, as an anti-racist educator’s resource.

Ref: D08P0056