Finding solutions to improve diversity and inclusion in the news industry

‘The work the John Schofield Trust is doing with regard to social mobility is really important and unparalleled within the industry’

The Trust carried out an anonymous survey of its mentors, mentees and past winners of the RTS Young Talent of the Year award which the Trust sponsors. We asked people for their views on diversity in newsrooms ahead of the online conversation the Trust is hosting on Thursday 30 July 2020 on this very subject.

There was plenty of food for thought, offering a broad range of practical solutions as well as insights into what it’s like to work in an environment where there is a visible lack of diversity.

Many commented that, by having a more representative staff, audiences will be better served: ‘News editors need to realise that if they have diversity of staff, they will have diversity of stories. And this will better reflect the country’.

‘Too many identikit graduates’

Respondents endorsed the importance of outside experience: ‘No more degrees in journalism. Other life experience required ahead of recruitment – there is not enough diversity of background or experience, too many identikit graduates with nothing to bring to the table’.

Another added: ‘There is a missed opportunity of attracting knowledge and life experience from people outside of the media bubble’.

‘This is a trade they can aspire to’

Others recognised the importance of engaging with children and young adults: ‘Our young will lead tomorrow’s news agenda, we have to invest in them now and account for all demographics’. One respondent highlighted the importance of ‘industry engagement with school age children so a more diverse range of people realise this is a trade they can actually aspire to’. Another noted that ‘interesting young people from backgrounds in journalism from an early age’ is key ‘because there are many communities who don’t trust “the news” or think it’s relevant, so why would they choose it as a career?’

A ‘nuanced understanding of diversity’ needed

There were some other painful truths: ‘Don’t assume because a senior member of staff is from a minority community, that they’re on the side of that community’ and, across the industry there needs to be a ‘more nuanced understanding of diversity’ as ‘at the moment it is quite one-dimensional’.

The Trust is holding this online event, ‘Let’s talk about diversity’ during this time of heightened focus on diversity and equality in a bid to find practical solutions.

Let’s talk about diversity

Chaired by Sky News presenter, Gillian Joseph, we’ll hear from Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director, BBC News, Babita Bahal, Channel 4’s Head of Creative Diversity and Vikki Cook, Head of Ofcom’s Diversity and Inclusion programme. The panel will lead a discussion on what broadcasters are doing to build teams that represent and reflect the full spectrum of their audiences.

The event’s organisers, trustees Louise Hastings and Zaiba Malik said: ‘We are really impressed by the depth of thought, honesty and openness that those who have kindly taken part in this survey have shared with a view to answering the vital question about how we can improve diversity. We look forward to expanding on these ideas and thoughts at our event’. You can sign-up here