Representing Sex Workers in the Canadian Newspaper

The news media, and especially the daily newspaper, can play a critical role in shaping our understanding of the world around us. For many people, newspapers dictate the social issues they learn about and how they interpret them, in effect “construct[ing] social realities” (Van Brunschot, Sydie & Krull, 2000, p.51). Not only can news reporting sway public opinion, it can affect how a culture employs politics, legislation and other powerful tactics to address a given issue.

Because of the influence newsmakers yield, certain approaches to news reporting can have problematic implications. For example, in-depth coverage and important contextual information are too commonly left out of short and salacious stories, written to catch a consumer’s attention. Readers are often left with little sense of the complexity of a given social reality, and the systemic causes behind them.

Possible Media Partnerships

Deciding on what media outlets to partner with in the distribution of our game pertains to our objectives for this project. Who is our target audience for the game? What kind of dialogue do we want to foster? Do we want to attract a large audience to our game immediately or would we like to experiment with smaller audiences? Furthermore, it is important that we partner with an outlet with a strong online presence that has the infrastructure to support interactive technology.

Alternative Media Outlets

Alternative media outlets are more likely to partner with outside content-producers, and also publish more controversial content. However, while there are many alternative media outlets in Canada, it is important that we select an alternative media outlet that has a strong online presence and values their online content.

IDEAL CANDIDATE: RABBLE.CA

Rabble.ca has published many articles highlighting different points of views on the changes to Canadian prostitution laws, encouraging debate about these issues. This media outlet often partners with other blogs and organizations to produce content. Rabble.ca targets a progressive, politicized audience who are eager to contribute to a dialogue. Furthermore, they often publish content with an obvious point of view on a topic. They also produce multimedia content, and would likely be interested in exploring new technologies.

The Tyee is a prominent alternative media outlet in Canada. Though it does target readers in British Columbian, it still reaches audiences across the country. Like Rabble.ca, they target a more progressive audience, and are open to outside content-producers. Their online and multimedia features are less developed than Rabble.ca.

This Magazine, while primarily a print media outlet, has an active website and blog. It is the longest running alternative journal in Canada. However, they have not extensively covered the prostitution law changes in Canada, and do not produce multi-media content.

Shameless is a alternative, feminist magazine that is aimed at young women. Though they are primarily a print magazine, they do run an award-winning blog with web features and podcasts. This would be an interesting partnership if we were hoping to experiment with a more specific audience.
Sheila Sampath, Editorial Director sheila@shamelessmag.com
Sarah Feldbloom, Web Producer sfeldbloom@shamelessmag.com

Mainstream Media Outlets

Many mainstream outlets such as the CBC, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star are beginning to experiment with new interactive online technologies. The advantage to partnering with a mainstream outlet would be the vast, cross-country audience they attract. However, the content is created in-house and it is unclear if they would be interested in partnering with an outside group, particularly if it relates to a controversial game such as ours.

Other Resources

The Feminist Media Project
Created to specifically respond to misrepresentations of missing and murdered women in Vancouver in the media, this group of academics and journalists also comment on other misrepresentations of women. Though they appear to be less active in creating content, they continue to link to outside articles.

Media Action Media
Advocacy and initiatives responding to problematic media representations, particularly of women. Interested in new digital technologies.

Canadian newsgame example

MARK OF THE BEAST, based in Toronto, is partnering with: “the Center for Investigative Reporting and IGN later in September, planning a newsgame hack day as an Innovate News event in association with the UXI design community, and potentially TIFFNet (Toronto International Film Festival’s year-round body), the International Game Developers Association, Interactive Ontario and Entertainment Software Association of Canada trade groups, and Toronto’s DigiFest festival [discussions in progress].”  They are not partnering with traditional media outlets but rather different kinds of organizations to help develop and distribute their game.