The Parliamentary Press Gallery: White (and male) like me

On Thursday, the Parliamentary Press Gallery threw a pizza lunch in Centre Block to unveil the most recent photo portrait of its members. The enormous frame contained individual images of 304 current full-time members of the gallery.

The gallery does the portrait sporadically every six or seven years. The last pictures were assembled in 2004 and 1998 and are the closest we get to having a high school yearbook. Not everyone poses for the picture, it should be noted, but it gives a pretty good glimpse of the face of people who report on parliament..

This year’s photo shows a marked under-representation of visible minorities in the Press Gallery.

I did a very quick count and found only 21 visible minorities in the picture. (And I was being pretty generous about whom to count). Everyone else was white.

That’s an amazingly low seven per cent.

Compare with the Canadian population, in which 16.2 per cent consider themselves visible minorities, according to the 2006 census.

Of these 21 visible minorities in the gallery, four represent Chinese news organizations Xinhua, the People’s Daily or the Falun Gong’s New Tang Dynasty TV.  So among the Canadian media, the number is probably even lower.

Someone with more time could go through the picture to figure out how many of those picture are reporters as opposed to technicians — the gallery includes camera and sound people.

I don’t know if the same low number would be found in newsrooms across the nation.

And I don’t know what this means, either, or whether it even matters, or if it does, how it should be remedied.

UPDATE: A colleague in the gallery suggested I figure out the percentage of women. I came up with 101 out of 304 full-time members in the photograph. That’s 33 per cent, better than the 25 per cent representation of women in the House of Commons, but, of course, well below the 50 per cent of women in the world.

7 thoughts on “The Parliamentary Press Gallery: White (and male) like me

  1. Worry less about how the pack of hill journos look, and more about they think: try finding putting one together that is less “representative” of Harper-hater online comment boards, and actually includes a few people who might vote Conservative at some point in their life. Having the same warmed-over left-wing dogmas spouted 24/7 isn’t going to make the press gallery any more relevant or representative if it happens to be in a darker hue. On the other hand, since the liberal dogmas that the press gallery habitually spouts are pretty much the product of their poor-little-rich-white-kid upbringings, it’s possible that any sort of diversity would help at this point, even if only in something as superficial as skin tone.

    1. Why is “spout” always the verb of choice for these kinds of screeds? I’d give my tofu taco for a synonym.

      1. blather, bloviate, babble, shriek, drone, any of those might work, but “spout” provides the best imagery (“ejaculate” would come closest on that score, but it’s rarely used in that sense now)

  2. Not surprisingly, although you and your colleagues apparently hold to a “50% of women ought to equal 50% of hill journos” logic, neither of you thought to calculate the number of hill journos who might have voted Conservative – or might just be conservative along any of a number of different possible measures – relative to the general population.

    1. Yes, Glen. You need to get off your lazy axx and start investigating the voting habits of your fellow press gallery members. That’s the ticket right there.

      1. Well, you could start by asking them. Or you could just survey them on basic – and perfectly legal – attitudinal questions. That would give a reasonable idea of the extent to which they reflect the general population.

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