British reporters and editors call for greater diversity in a letter to media executives and others responsible for managing newsrooms and recruitment…
Dear Sir or Madam:
The killing of George Floyd has drawn attention to many wider issues around equality and diversity.
The protests that have been taking place around the world and the passion they have generated are an appropriate time for all of us to examine our own industry and its commitment to the issues that have been raised in recent weeks.
There have been several major businesses and industries who have declared they will evaluate their own approach in the past and the future to the needs of Black, Asian and Minority people.
We are journalists with decades of experience in the media industry, many of us spending our careers still disheartened by the lack of diversity in the newsrooms in which we work.
For those of us of a certain age, we started off as one of the few, if not the only minority journalists and it saddens us to say that over the years, this has not significantly changed.
A diverse editorial team helps reflect a wider cross section of opinion and cover stories that are not just race-related in an expansive and balanced way, giving the views of BAME communities on a range of matters that have traditionally not been aired; from Brexit to education to the state of the economy, we too are affected by the same issues that impact our fellow Britons.
There is more to our communities than just “race matters” and we believe that by having a greater cross section of journalists from across the UK’s diverse communities will only help to enrich coverage, provide more eclectic views and deliver more insight into those that make up the Britain of today.
News organisations have over the past decade actively looked to improve their gender diversity and that’s been great. The same now needs to happen on ethnic diversity too.
The ‘colour blind’ approach to recruitment that’s been in play for so long is misguided as it ignores the challenges that many BAME kids face.
By not recognising, engaging and nurturing talent that lies in these communities, not only are responsible news organisations failing, but they are also missing a few tricks in making our news organisations more effective and attractive.
We urge greater scope on recruitment while keeping in line with the principles of talent and merit. One cannot see them if one is not looking for them.
We, the under-signed, are the rare ones who made it – against the odds in ways which are largely not understood. We wish to step up and play our role in delivering that new layer of talent and help build a workforce that is more representative of Britain now and for the future generations.
We believe every newsroom would benefit greatly from having a more diverse workforce.
Many of us in the media have reported on the likes of businesses, political groups and indeed some big media names such as Anna Wintour declaring they haven’t done enough over the years to promote or employ ethnic journalists. This is the time for editors and publishers to put supportive words into action.
OUR CALL TO ACTION:
We request you to consider positive recruitment campaigns from ethnic communities across Britain with a declared commitment; properly paid traineeships for BAME youngsters with adequate mentoring and equal promotion and pay for BAME staff already in newsrooms.
A good start would be regular reviews of diversity in newsrooms and for an initial assessment and publication of current BAME representations in news organisations.
We call upon the Society of Editors to urge its members to use this period of reflection to re-evaluate and reform past practices and move forward with a totally skilled workforce with appropriate BAME representation.
Let’s all get the whole story.
The letter was organised by journalists Shekhar Bhatia and Vivek Chaudhary
Editor’s note: This is something we strongly support and believe we would all benefit from Britain’s media being more diverse – progress has been made but it is still slow and superficial at some levels and there has been a history of good initiatives sometimes petering out… (Sailesh Ram, founder and editor of www.asianculturevulture.com)
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