Graf, Heike. (Ed.). Diversity in Theory and Practice: News Journalism in Sweden and Germany

Communication Research Trends, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Graf, Heike. (Ed.). Diversity in Theory and Practice: News Journalism in Sweden and Germany


Graf, Heike. (Ed.). Diversity in Theory and Practice: News Journalism in Sweden and Germany. Goteborg, Sweden: Nordicom/University of Gothenburg, 2011. Pp. 192. ISBN 978-91-86523-12-1 (paper) SEK 280, 30 [euro].

In early 2011, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, caused some furore when he announced that, in his opinion, multiculturalism had failed as a project in the united Kingdom. There is a strong feeling, according to BBC Radio 4's World at One program (14th March, 2011) that there is a need for immigrants to the united Kingdom to adapt to the British way of life and to the British culture. We, particularly in our cities, are a very diverse population from many countries. In my own London Borough it is estimated that children in our primary schools have around 120 mother tongues among them. In other parts of the country, the actualities of life are considerably different, despite a developed tourism industry. There has been continual discussion around whether ethnic minorities are sufficiently represented in our media. It is expected that the 2011 UK Census will show that 10% of our population is from an ethnic minority and 80% of these people are under 25 years old (http://www.whichfranchise.com/ethnicMinorities/article.cfm?ethnicID=5 accessed 14th March 2011). Most of the second generation of ethnic minority immigrants are upwardly mobile and research has shown that many feel that the media do not reflect their presence in society (see, e.g., http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/nov/09/race .broadcasting). It seems, however, that when the media try to assist in appointing those from ethnic minority backgrounds, they may then be castigated. A report appeared (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8321675/BBC-accused-of- lowering-standards-toencourage-more-ethnic-minorities.html) in which Samir Shah, formerly head of current affairs at the BBC and Indian born, is quoted as saying that the BBC had lowered its requirements in order to recruit people from ethnic minorities.

This new book from the Nordicom series comes from an idea first mooted in 2005 but which actually began when funding was obtained from the Baltic Sea Foundation in January 2007. The project was entitled "Lines of Diversity: Multicultural Perspectives on Journalistic Production in Stockholm and Berlin," thus focusing on two countries, Sweden and Germany, that are seen both as liberal and as having a free media industry. The research was carried out in newsrooms and centered on how journalists from ethnic backgrounds experienced working conditions, career possibilities, and their possibilities of changing media coverage. The research was mainly carried out through semi-structured interviews with editorial staff who worked on permanent or fixed term contracts, but also with freelancers in Swedish and German newsrooms. In addition, material was taken from reports, policy documents, enquiries, and "other documents" (p. 9) so that their findings could be contextualized. The researchers conducted 48 interviews in all, 35 with people from immigrant backgrounds and 21 from the total living in Germany. …

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