Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A New Step Taken as Press Plays Catch-Up on Ethnic Diversity

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A New Step Taken as Press Plays Catch-Up on Ethnic Diversity

Article excerpt

Byline: Roy Greenslade media analysis

BRITAIN'S population has changed and is changing. That is something of a truism and it's certainly a phrase that could have been written at any time since the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in June 1948 and brought the first group of Jamaican immigrants to London.

Some 67 years on, following the arrival of generations of migrants from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, modern Britain is now an ethnically diverse nation.

Sadly, the modern British media does not reflect that reality. The staff composition of newsrooms at newspapers, websites and broadcasters does not represent the make-up of the communities they seek to serve. Too few black, Asian and minority ethnic people, giving us the clumsy but accurate acronym BAME, are employed by mainstream media organisations.

Obtaining BAME employment statistics is difficult but it is significant that media owners, managers and editors do not dispute their failure and have supported attempts to improve the situation.

In 2004, I recall the Society of Editors produced a report about the lack of media diversity in newsrooms. It was time to Do Something, it said, and made a number of recommendations. The year before, a small group of ethnic minority journalists formed a networking organisation, Aspire, with sponsorship from Pearson and the Financial Times. It was aimed at increasing the BAME voice. One of its early leading lights, magazine reporter Uchenna Izundu, gave a yearly talk to my students.

But Aspire drifted away. As for the Society of Editors' wellmeaning initiative, it was launched ahead of what proved to be the most savage cutback of editorial posts in newspaper history alongside severe staff reductions in broadcasting newsrooms. So a decade has passed in which the lack of journalistic diversity has not been addressed, a sore that has been allowed to fester. …

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