Women in Journalism have been campaigning for twenty eight years for more diversity in the media. We believe that to serve democracy the media needs to be a mirror that truly reflects society. Yet too often because of the unrepresentative nature of the journalists who write the stories and the editors who choose them, the ‘mirror’ that media holds up becomes a distorting lens.
For over two decades we have lobbied about the lack of women writing and editing the first draft of history, fortunately recently that is beginning to improve, at least at the top; we welcome the influx of female Editors although newsrooms, business sections and sport can still be overwhelmingly male spaces.
The glaring injustice now is the stark lack of other kinds of diversity in the media particularly the voices of those from BAME backgrounds. In the past WIJ has commissioned pioneering research about the lack of women.
This week in response to the global outcry over the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and here in the UK, we announce a new research project which will look at exactly how many journalists from diverse backgrounds there are working in our national papers and in our flagship TV news programmes and websites. We will do a byline counting exercise again and also a more formal audit of the numbers of BAME editors and other executives and columnists.
We are also intending to talk to journalists from different communities who have made it through to ask them about their experiences and the obstacles they face to help the situation going forward and provide some practical information for those media companies who would like to see the situation improve. The situation for women is still not resolved in our media, but it has improved – we would like to see a similar step change in other more diverse voices; particularly those of BAME women. But the first step is to audit where we are now so there is a benchmark from which to see how things change. This is a tipping point – the media must better reflect the public it serves or it will lose the trust of the public.