Over 100 black journalists urge editors to improve diversity

Alannah Francis, The Voice

The collective says individuals from underrepresented groups need to be hired in newsrooms to ensure journalism reflects the society it serves
MORE THAN 100 black and ethnic minority journalists have called on editors across Britain to make a serious commitment to improving representation in newsrooms by supporting their diversity manifesto.

The newly-created Black Journalists Collective UK (BJCUK), has sent out a letter to newsrooms around the country, urging them to take action to increase diversity in journalism and improve their reporting of racial issues by hiring more BAME staff.

In the letter, which was shared with The Voice, the BJCUK cite recent stories relating to Raheem Sterling and singer Jamelia Davis as examples of the need for more black journalists and broadcasters.

“The poor and misleading quality of reporting related to people of colour in the UK has been brought into sharp focus in recent days by Raheem Sterling and Jamelia Davis. These are only the latest in a long litany of inadequacies in newsroom coverage of race and how stories of non-white people are covered.

“We, as members of the Black Journalists’ Collective UK, believe that there is a direct correlation between the ethnic makeup of the staff in a newsroom and how issues are covered,” the letter states.

The BJCUK has described the lack of black journalists employed in newsrooms around the country as a “chronic underrepresentation”.

As part of its efforts to address the situation, the BJCUK has devised a four point manifesto, which outlines principles in relation to representation, transparency, financial commitments to increase diversity and equal access to employment opportunities.

The points detail that publications should publish figures on the ethnic makeup of their organisation, actively commit to ensuring staff at every level represent Britain’s diverse society, outline how much they spend on increasing diversity and recruit and advertise for roles more widely.

A 2017 report from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) found that black journalism graduates are far less likely to be working in the sector than their white peers.

Eight per cent of black journalism students were working as journalists six months after graduating compared to 26 per cent of white journalism students.

National focus
Last month, Labour MP Sarah Jones launched, Journey to Journalism, a programme to get more people from black and ethnic minorities into the industry.

Commenting on the scheme, journalist Marverine Cole, journalist and broadcaster and BJCUK spokesperson and member, told The Voice: “Anything that encourages more journalists into the industry is great. [Sarah Jones’s] scheme is London-focused and encouraging new entrants, which is what is required. However representation needs to improve across newsrooms regionally and nationally.

“The BJCUK feels very strongly that news organisations need to better handle the career progression of those BAME journalists who are already working hard within their newsrooms. There is a clear issue of people working in fear of speaking out about their disquiet; people unhappy at being paid less than their white counterparts and being continually overlooked for promotion.”

BJCUK is made up of journalists working across the industry at organisation including The Guardian, the Daily Mirror, Sky News, BBC News and ITN, the home of ITV News, Channel 4 News and 5 News.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Posted on: 21/12/2018 03:10 PM
uploaded: Sat, Dec 22 2018
modified: Tue, Dec 30 1969