InsideWaterloo is a new local media publication for Black, Indigenous, and racialized voices in Waterloo Region that will explore the many complex underlying issues affecting our community.
Launched this week, InsideWaterloo has plans to decolonize bookshelves through book reviews, in partnership with Rad Riot Books. They plan to release a series of stories around racial equity, provide an op-ed section, in-depth local news reporting and historical pieces. They also have plans to start a podcasting arm.
One of the founders behind the new media publication is Teneile Warren, a local writer, playwright and community advocate for racial equity. Warren’s equity work has focused on dismantling the structures that negatively impact racialized communities.
“We don’t really have a long-form journalistic voice in the region. And we think that the quality and level of stories that Inside Waterloo has to tell are on par with all of the major cities in Canada, and in North America. So we created a space to tell them,” Warren said. “There’s such creative talent here. There are such strong storytellers here.”
Warren has a background in broadcast television and media communication, with a history of working in radio journalism, focusing mostly on investigating entertainment. Along with co-founder Fitsum Areguy, a local writer and reporter, and the co-founder of Textile Magazine, the team also includes Phi Doan, a former reporter and anchor for 570 NEWS.
InsideWaterloo reached out to local BIPOC freelance writers, photographers, and artists initially to amplify our community stories. They are also participating in the Indiegraf fellowship, a company that develops independent media in Canada.
“Indiegraf supports people that are pushing against a journalistic model, for six months — that also comes with some financial startup support. And they’re helping us to build our website, build our brand, and set up a funding campaign,” Warren said.
As a journalist, Warren keeps up with local, national and global news regularly, and noticed the lack of focus on the actual BIPOC people interviewed in news content.
“We really have to focus on digging deeper. That honouring of identity was always lost. Even if you are telling a news story, the basic tenets of journalism, in many ways, remove dignity,” Warren said.
Warren’s criticism of media in general is that BIPOC stories are told through a “white lens”.
“You can’t approach people who have been historically harmed by all of the structures, because you’re going to further that trauma,” she said.
Her other concern is that journalists report the police’s version of events first, which means that BIPOC are not given a fair chance to have their voices heard.
“It becomes the disempowered group having to overpower the power to say, ‘no, this is what happened. This is not true, I did not do anything wrong.’ … We’re not using anti-racist journalism stories,” Warren said.
Warren believes that InsideWaterloo is just the start of dismantling the “white lens” of media locally and in Canada and that the stories of BIPOC are out there, they are just not being covered by mainstream media.
“We really want to make space for longform journalism, and I think it’s important to really centre BIPOC identities in the region that haven’t been centred before. These are new perspectives that we are trying to tell,” Warren said. “We are taking up space and owning our narratives as BIPOC in Canada by holding truth to power to inspire change.”