Making the case for diverse newsrooms

Journalism is the fourth estate and holds power to account. This mission is hampered by a lack of representation of all walks of life in newsrooms and media companies as inherent bias of individuals and existing power structures blocks the most pertinent questions, investigations, and coverage from taking place.

The dominance of a London centric media in addition to the unethical yet entrenched practice of unpaid internships as the primary means of entry into the profession is compounded by a particularly acute housing crisis in the capital, creating a perfect storm that makes it even harder for the most disadvantaged, diverse and silenced community members from starting a career in this industry.

PressPad has identified that those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds are often incredibly resourceful in applying and obtaining media internship opportunities but the high cost of living in London prevents them from taking these up.

We want to not only provide temporary relief from these high costs for those entering the profession with our strategic grassroots intervention but also to lobby politicians and media companies to find a way to end unpaid internships, discrimination and high housing costs. This will take some time and there are many who are more active in this space – some of whom we are currently developing partnerships with.

As Sky Correspondent Lewis Goodall wrote in July following revelations of top BBC presenters’ salaries and the lack of diverse high earners in the industry, “diversity is about more than what you can see.”

His article calls attention to what many of us know to be true: coming from a working class and poor economic background is a huge, unspoken disadvantage. From some informal number crunching based on the 2017 published list of salaries, Goodall goes on to write:

“No fewer than 45% of the BBC’s best paid stars went to private schools. That compares to 7% of the nation overall. Just think about that. If you send your child to private school it increases their chances of being one of the biggest names in TV and media by a factor of six.”

PressPad hopes to lower the economic bar for entry into the journalism industry by calling on an industry of compassionate, well-paid and well-educated colleagues to volunteer their privilege – and a room. Through a network of such people contributing in this way, together we hope we can do something that is desperately overdue: diversify the industry in a dimension that goes beyond just gender and race.

PressPad’s views echo those of Goodall’s when he asks this vital question:

“We journalists are the ones who day after day, are supposed to reflect Britain unto itself. How are we supposed to do that if we are drawn from an increasingly narrow social caste?”