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A memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to remember the victims of the mass shooting on Oct. 27, 2018.

The power of a witness

Documenting hate is one way to fight it

This is from our weekly Discourse newsletter. Make sure to share it and subscribe here.


Hate is in the headlines again after a gunman killed 11 people in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend.

While it can be hard to see what power any of us might have to effectively challenge such horrific acts, one of the most basic things we can all do is call out hate when we see it. Unfortunately, that’s something that doesn’t always happen, especially where the collection of data is concerned.

According to the journalism organization ProPublica, there is no reliable national data in the U.S. on hate incidents, andmore than half of hate crime victims don’t report to police.” ProPublica is trying to change that by calling on witnesses, survivors, journalists and civil rights groups to come together and track incidents across the U.S. in this shared database, “Documenting Hate”.

In Canada, there are also significant gaps when it comes to collecting data on hate. There are some organizations trying to tackle that gap, like this one that tracks anti-Muslim incidents in Canada and this one that tracks hate crimes in Alberta. But I’m searching for more.   

Do you know any organizations in Canada that are documenting hate incidents? Let me know, email me here and we will share those resources in our next newsletter. Because if we don’t track hate and the ways in which it tears lives apart, how can we stop it?

Did you hear?

Shout-outs.

In last week’s newsletter, I shared a quote from 15-year-old Sophie Bezanson, a Girl Guides National Youth Council Member. She said, “I hope to one day see the change in society where I will be comfortable calling myself a feminist in public.”

We asked you to respond to Sophie. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write us such thoughtful emails. Because it was so hard to choose which messages to share, we took all your responses and pieced parts of them together here. I promise you, it’s worth a look. Here’s a glimpse:

Dear Sophie,

I am afraid of the world that I grow up in.

I am afraid for all the women whose freedoms and opportunities are limited because our society is too reluctant to expel patriarchy and the double standards that complement it.

I’ve always felt there was a weird aversion to declarations of feminism.

I think that often when we claim the label it puts us under pressure to prove or defend our position.

The right people will support you, and they will work hard alongside you while you build the life you want.

Read the whole thing here.

Spotlight.

The Discourse just wrapped up its participation in Join the Beat, a collective of media change-makers determined to make journalism more democratic.

Traditionally, journalists get together at press clubs to drink beer, lament layoffs, and gripe about the state of access to information laws in Canada. But can you imagine a press club for journalists actively reinventing journalism.

For the last five months, through a project called Join the Beat, we’ve met with 10 other reporters from outlets like Reveal, The Ferret and De Correspondent who are challenging the old guards in newsrooms and turning journalism on its head.

Instead of thinking of readers as passive viewers or sources for a story, we’re asking you to be part of it — by contributing your knowledge and pointing us to the issues you care most about. Why? Because more brain power and diverse perspectives make better reporting, plain and simple. Thank you for taking a leap into the unknown with us as we continue to learn and re-imagine what journalism could be. If you’d like to know how you can be part of our reporting, send us a note here.

Updates from the team.

Happy Halloween from some of the costumed members of The Discourse team in Vancouver.

You’ve heard us say it before, but journalism in Canada is changing. On Halloween that took a playful turn when some of us in the Vancouver office were brave enough to come to work in costume.

If you want to help us transform how journalism is done in Canada we invite you to become a member of The Discourse and support this team that now includes a bear, a luchador and a few math puns. As a member, you’ll get to go behind the scenes of our editorial process and make an impact by contributing to our investigations. Sign up here