Cover: Under the White Gaze: Solving the Problem of Race and Representation in Canadian Journalism, by Christopher Cheung. Each word of the title is a different colour, each chosen to evoke a different skin tone.
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:16 Sep 2024

Under the White Gaze

Solving the Problem of Race and Representation in Canadian Journalism

UBC Press, Purich Books

Canada’s multiculturalism stops where most newsrooms begin. Despite recent efforts to increase diversity, stories about people of colour are often presented as cliches – from freeloading immigrants to keepers of exotic culture – rather than individuals with complex stories.

For aspiring and seasoned journalists alike, and the schools shaping them, Under the White Gaze is a candid investigation into the state of race in Canadian media today. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about media representation, including all aspiring and practicing journalists.

Instead of treating diversity like a missing ingredient – simply add one racialized reporter and the diversity issue is solved – journalist Christopher Cheung wants newsrooms to change how they tell stories. That means recognizing that even positive stories perpetuate the white gaze, like celebrating model minorities or foodie finds in racialized neighbourhoods as being “worth the trip” for the (white) reader.

Under the White Gaze also explores why reporting on race is necessary, how the language for doing so is evolving, and why intersectionality increasingly matters in stories about race. Christopher Cheung also examines the way Canada’s white gaze operates very differently than America’s. This book will change the way people think about the stories we create, read, watch, and listen to about Canadian society.

Deeply researched and engagingly written by a racialized reporter navigating the industry, Under the White Gaze is the perfect addition to newsrooms and any journalism or social science curriculum, and is a great read for Canadian media consumers, journalists, and other media producers – and anyone who studies or is interested in race and representation.

Christopher Cheung has quickly become one of our must-read journalists. He has reshaped the discourse on a host of social and civic issues, foregrounding groups that have been underserved by other media members. His always engaging, lucidly written new book, Under the White Gaze, serves both as a textbook for new reporters seeking to navigate pitfalls in (mis)representation, and as a resource to readers who know they’re not being served by the journalism they consume but can’t quite articulate their concerns the way an insider can. Kevin Chong, author of The Double Life of Benson Yu
Under the White Gaze should be required reading in every journalism school and newsroom in the country. Cheung’s work is a lifeline for an industry that too often fails in its promise to explain all of Canada to all Canadians. Patrick White, national news reporter, Globe and Mail
In Under the White Gaze, Cheung seamlessly weaves personal anecdotes, reportage, historical accounts, and literary analysis to navigate the terrain of race and representation in Canadian media. As an aspiring journalist who grew up in a multicultural Vancouver neighborhood, Cheung details his own evolution as an emerging storyteller alongside discussions of critical race theory and industry expectations placed on journalists of colour. His writing, whipsmart and unflinching, is timely, insightful, and illuminating. Lindsay Wong, author of The Woo-Woo and Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality
Under the White Gaze is a book that should be required reading for fresh-faced journalism students as they prepare to enter newsrooms. But veteran, sometimes cynical, journalists should also read it to remind them about why they became reporters in the first place – to tell stories about real people living desperate, complicated, and often inequitable lives. Hamlin Grange, CM, former reporter and news anchor, and president and co-founder of DiversiPro Inc.
Christopher Cheung’s book re-examines journalism by challenging the lens through which most journalists still look at the world around them: a white lens. It has important lessons for how journalism is taught, for how newsrooms are managed, and for how news is consumed. John Miller, emeritus professor of journalism, Toronto Metropolitan University

Christopher Cheung is a staff reporter at one of Canada’s earliest online news sources, The Tyee. Previously at Metro and the Vancouver Courier, he is highly acclaimed for his reporting on urban culture, inequality, and life in Metro Vancouver’s diasporas. Among his many honours are two Jack Websters, BC’s top journalism awards. He holds a Master of Journalism from UBC.

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