As you might have seen, last week I was doing a placement at the Nottingham Evening Post. Well, after my horrendous experience with the general public on Thursday that week, I began to have a few concerns about the UK media industry and publics’ view of journalists from ethnic minorities.
To begin with media organisations can cite any higher education statistics they want, but the reality is there are still very few people studying journalism from ethnic minorities going on to careers in the mainstream media – especially in the nationals (take a look at this 2005 article from The Guardian).
Let’s take the newsroom at the Nottingham Evening Post, for instance. On a positive note, there were almost as many female reporters and editors around as male ones, which I believe is a good thing for the industry.
Everyone I had dealings with was friendly and gave me plenty of sound advice about the daily rigours of newspaper journalism.
However, the entire week I didn’t see one person from an ethnic minority, be they black, oriental or Asian. This was very sad considering Nottingham’s relatively high proportion of ethnic students.
The lack of people from ethnic backgrounds making it in the world of mainstream journalism is an issue I’ve wrestled with internally for some time, since beginning my quest to build a career as a writer and journalist.
There seems to be a low level of people from ethnic backgrounds enrolling in humanities courses. And of the keen, highly accredited few, barely any of them appear to be taken on by the editors of well known, national publications.
Over the last 20 years, the US media industry has diversified a lot more than the UK’s. But there is still need for improvement on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks to the internet, I’ve been able to observe and learn from journalists, like N’Gai Croal (formerly at Newsweek) and Marc Cieslak. Deborah Gabriel, a black British journalist, has also written some poignant articles that have certainly struck a chord with me.
This isn’t something that’s going to change tomorrow, and it certainly won’t change unless I, and other likeminded upcoming journalists from ethnic backgrounds, continue to push for change.