Lack of black voices in local media is ‘inexcusable’, says journalism professor

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Brian Daly. Photo: Matthew Byard.

Brian Daly keeps a map of the world on his office wall as a reminder of the map that sat on a table in the study room of his family home where he grew up and where his father still resides. Among the other decorations and keepsakes in Daly’s office are two retro analog tape recorders, one of them the same model he and his younger brother used as children to interrogate their parents.

After nearly three decades in the news media as a journalist and television producer, Daly teaches journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax.

Daly and I recently participated in a virtual roundtable on diversity in the media organized by the Black Market Series, which was part of the Halifax Black Film Festival.

In a recent interview with the Examiner, Daly spoke about the black community in Nova Scotia and its lack of representation in the media.

[In Nova Scotia] the vast majority of the black community can trace their roots back to pre-Confederation, and that makes a difference because African Nova Scotians have a very strong sense of their Canadian identity. It is a black Canadian identity.

I am disappointed with the lack of representation of African Nova Scotians in the mainstream media, and it is inexcusable. It is inexcusable that we have not seen, for example, some sort of program in radio or television stations that should have been in place since… the beginning of television broadcasting in the 1960s.

Originally from Montreal, Daly moved to Halifax in 2018 when he accepted a position with CBC Nova Scotia as lead producer of the Atlantic’s late-night news show and lead backup producer on the Atlantic. supper time news broadcast.

“It was the first time in my career that I had my own show where I was calling all the shots,” he said.

Daly grew up in the same neighborhood as his father, a black community known as Little Burgundy in Montreal – a community known for its black Canadian jazz culture, and where Daly said piano lessons at school were mandatory.

His late mother is from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.

So you have the intersection of the two major groups of black people in Canada, the Canadian-born black people, who are my father, and the West Indians. Because my mother was part of the first wave of legal black immigration, because black immigration was illegal until 1953.

Daly recounted how, under pressure from its allies, Canada “reluctantly” allowed limited black immigration after it was officially banned by the Prime Minister’s Office for most of the 20th century. He said the change was made under what was called ‘Te Antillean domestic regime.

So they basically said, ‘OK, you can send your wives on the condition that they work as maids for a year in our country and prove that they are worthy of being Canadian.’ After a year, we could grant them permanent residency.

Daly said Canada advertised the program in some of the British colonies. He said his mother and two of his friends responded to one of the advertisements in their local newspaper.

And they arrived in the middle of winter in Montreal in 1957, put their year, got their PR [permanent residency]and my mother then sponsored like six [of her] brothers and sisters.

Although he has a teaching certificate from St. Vincent, he said his mother was not licensed to teach in Canada and had to go back to school to obtain Canadian certification. He said she also enrolled at McGill University.

To pay for her studies, she had to work in the computer lab. What did my dad do to make money while he was at McGill? Work in the computer lab. Dad walked in one day, saw a beautiful woman sitting at her desk, and that’s when it all started.

Break into the news media

In 1992, at the age of 19, Daly enrolled at Ryerson University in Toronto to study journalism.

I live in Toronto because I reunited with my cousins ​​who I moved away from when I was a teenager. Now I have to be in Toronto, the media capital.

Towards the end of his second year, one of his instructors, Kevin Newman, who at the time was also a host of CBC Midday, encouraged his class to submit his resume to CBC in Toronto.

“And I’ll make sure your resume gets to the right person’s desk, and who knows, you might get a job,” he recalled, telling Newman to the class.

That summer Daly landed his first job as an editorial assistant where he said he couldn’t do much but was able to learn a lot.

I was there! I worked at CBC, in the middle of my stomach. Knowlton Nash, Peter Mansbridge, Alison Smith, Wendy Mesley, those people were all there — [Ian] Hanomansing, they were all there in my face, it was amazing.

Global Halifax News Director Rhonda Brown, she was right before me as EA. … Pamela Walling was hired by CTV when I was there, to co-host the big show with Mansbridge.

Daly said a critical moment for his career came when he was talking to fellow Montrealer Ron Charles, who was filling in as weekend host for The National. Charles, along with Scott Laurie, was one of only two black Canadian national journalists at that time.

After talking to Charles about his career aspirations, he said that Charles had encouraged him to get out of Toronto and would have said a good word for him at CBC in Montreal. Later that year, when he returned home for Christmas, Daly said he went to the CBC building where a man named Colin Cooper offered him a job after he got his degree from Ryerson.

He said, “Just make sure you graduate,” and I said, “Don’t worry about that, I’ll graduate.”

Something new

By 2018, Daly had worked for CBC, The Canadian Press, CTV Montreal, radio station CAJB, French media company Quebecor and Global News. However, feeling like he had hit a ceiling in the Montreal news media market, he sent “a barrage of applications” across the country.

Daly said CBC Nova Scotia in Halifax was the only non-Quebec news agency to respond. He said he initially interviewed for a job he didn’t get, but was told about a possible future job.

Six months later, he was interviewed for the position of Senior Producer for CBC Atlantic Tonight and Senior Deputy Producer for CBC News, Nova Scotia at 6. He was hired immediately and told he was needed in three days.

With a wife and three children then aged eight, nine and 14 in Montreal, Daly flew in, flew to Halifax and lived at the Best Western Chocolate Lake while working in his new position at CBC Nova Scotia. .

I was not with my family, it was very very very difficult. I definitely started going back to church. It was hard. … Eight months without them.

His wife and children moved to Halifax on Canada Day 2018.

Black man in gray collared shirt type on laptop with blurred world map on wall in background

Brian Daly. Photo: Matthew Byard.

“Teaching, but also refining”: a new axis

During his senior year at Ryerson University, top black Canadian journalists held meetings on campus and founded the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ), a networking and advocacy organization for black journalists in the country. .

Daly had been a member throughout the years. Shortly after moving to Halifax, Daly said he learned that CABJ chief executive Nadia Stewart wanted to expand the organization to the east coast. Daly was offered, and accepted, the position of CABJ’s first ever Atlantic Director.

One of CABJ’s initiatives is J-School Noire, a media training and mentoring program for young Black Canadians.

Well, it was thanks to J-School Noire that I realized that I didn’t just love teaching, I loved it.

Teach it, but also adjust it. This job gives me the opportunity to do that. When you’re in the newsroom, you can’t really change anything. You are just producing content.

It’s not specific to Radio-Canada, I’m talking about [generally]. But I feel like my role now is more suited to my skills and where I am in my life right now. That’s why I’m here.

In 2020, Daly organized and led J-School Noire’s first workshop for East Coast Black youth at NSCC in Halifax. Not only was this the catalyst that ultimately led Daly to his new career path at King’s, he said the workshop also sparked an interest in journalism in one of the students, Micah Mendes. He said Mendes has since been accepted to King’s and will begin his studies this fall.

Diversity in the media

Prior to leaving CBC, Daly left his position as producer for evening and late-night news and served as the producer of the short-lived African Nova Scotian content unit.

During the three or four months that this unit was there, it gave us a glimpse of what is possible. The programming that Keke Beats, Gbenga Akintokunand Kyah Sparks created was outstanding, and it’s there on the internet for everyone to see.

The unit’s two-part series on Halifax Prep was picked up by The National in its entirety.

Daly pays tribute to the other members of the unit, saying his job as a producer was simply to “put the pieces in place and let the talent flow”.

Daly said that in an ideal world, he thinks a unit such as the African Nova Scotian Content Unit would be a permanent fixture.

We have the Newfoundlanders, who have had a stranglehold on comedy since I was a kid with Air Farce, and now This Hour Has 22 Minutes. It’s not like we don’t have the recognition of unique and distinct people in this part of the country.

So now it will be up to the community to use the available technology… to take our bull by the horns and start your own thing.

A black man in a gray collared shirt smiles at the camera with a blurred world map on the wall in the background

Brian Daly. Photo: Matthew Byard.

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