MEDIA DIVERSITY IN THE UK
It is often said that the British media industry is pale, male and stale; but to quote City Journalism lecturer Jane Martinson “it’s probably fairer to call it pale, male and posh.” And Jane is not alone in that realisation. In 2017, Sky News’ Lewis Goddall set Twitter alight with his article “The BBC gender pay gap is bad – but its class gap is worse” highlighting that diversity is about more than what you can see. His article called out what many of us know to be true: coming from a working-class and poor economic background is a huge, unspoken disadvantage. While we would love for unpaid internships to become entirely a thing of the past everyone knows this will take time. Until this changes we want PressPad to exist for anyone and everyone that needs it.
Getting into journalism is expensive – It’s not a surprise that journalism became dominated by people from privileged backgrounds given that the financial barrier of entry has been steadily rising throughout the years. Think about it. Many journalism jobs now require you to have a university degree to even apply, and that costs money. A report in 2016 found that more than half of the country’s top journalists had gone to private school, and 80% of editors in top jobs came from private or grammars schools.
Unpaid or low paid internships in expensive cities make things worse and become an inescapable catch-22 for young journos. To get a job in journalism you need work experience, but how do you get it if nobody will give you a job? That’s where internships come in. They are now an essential part of how people get a chance to hone their journalistic skills and prove themselves to future employers. And this problem is not exclusive to journalism. Journalist Ross Perlin’s book Intern Nation (2012) digs deep into the increasing and often exploitative use of interns across a wide range of industries, including politics and overseas aid.
However, the Sutton Trust estimated in 2018 that it costs a young person £1,019 to do a month of unpaid work in London where some of the best opportunities are. A six-month internship in 2018 would have cost a young person £6,114. Shorter work experiences are also challenging for different reasons: short lets are hard to find, hotels are expensive, hostels aren’t always safe (particularly for women and LGBT people), sometimes they require greater deposits, or the cost of commuting is just too high. This prices out talented, diverse people who cannot afford to work for free or who don’t have friends/family to stay with to lower the cost. We lose talented people before the process even starts because they’re ruled out by the steep cost of taking up these opportunities.
WHY THIS MATTERS
When newsrooms do not reflect the demographic and economic diversity of their communities, the distance between the journalist and the reader grows, and can diminish trust. Former social-mobility tsar Alan Milburn’s State of the Nation report found that only 11% of journalists were from working-class backgrounds, compared to 60% of the population. A report by City University in 2016 found that the British journalism industry is 94% white and 86% university-educated. Just 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim.