The UBC Graduate School of Journalism has launched the only university journalism course in Canada dedicated to improving the quality of Aboriginal representation by the news media.
The course, Reporting in Indigenous Communities, was created in partnership with several B.C. Aboriginal communities and will be led by Duncan McCue, an award-winning journalist and regular contributor for CBC’s flagship TV news program The National.
“The course’s goal is to elevate the quality of coverage of Aboriginal issues and to improve the relationship between the news media and Aboriginal peoples,” says McCue, an adjunct professor of journalism at UBC and one of the few Aboriginal mainstream reporters in Vancouver.
“Far too often Aboriginal people are still portrayed by news organizations in ways that reinforce negative or inaccurate stereotypes,” adds McCue, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario. “We aim to change that by exposing the next generation of journalists to Aboriginal stories, cultures and protocols, in a safe environment, before they wind up in big newsrooms facing unrelenting deadlines.”
Students will learn the history, culture and politics of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and abroad, and produce a series of news stories in print, audio-visual and web formats during three-month assignments in indigenous communities throughout B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
Partner communities and organizations – which will provide guest lecturers and community access – include Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation, Sto:lo Tribal Council and the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council.
“We believe this type of course is sorely needed in Canadian journalism schools,” wrote Kim Baird, a UBC alumna and chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, in a letter of support for the course.
Peter Klein, an Emmy-award-winning journalist and acting director of UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism, says the course is part of the school’s ongoing effort to enhance diversity in the media.
“The lack of Aboriginal mainstream reporters is a concern to all schools of journalism across Canada. We want our curriculum at UBC to encourage Aboriginal peoples to consider reporting as a career,” Klein says.
“If we give journalists opportunities to learn about indigenous communities – whether online or in a classroom – our audiences will ultimately be the ones who benefit,” says McCue, who designed the course while on a Knight Fellowship at California’s Stanford University, where he also developed an online educational guide to assist reporters who cover indigenous communities.
Students in UBC’s inaugural Reporting in Indigenous Communities course will visit Aboriginal communities this fall before classes begin in January 2012.
Learn about UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism at: http://www.journalism.ubc.ca.
Learn about UBC’s Aboriginal Strategy, a university-wide initiative to increase recruitment, support and programming for Aboriginal students and researchers, at: http://aboriginal.ubc.ca.
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