"This is what I learnt from researching 120 of up and coming black journalists"
Ayomikun Adekaiyero, PressPad’s social media editor, was shocked to discover only 0.2% of journalists in the UK are black. Here, he writes about how researching a Twitter thread to celebrate young black journalists has given him hope for the future.
Over the last few weeks as the Social Media Editor for PressPad I have been giving shoutouts to several black journalists in the journalism industry. While I am gratified whenever I see the responses of the journalists who are on the list, making the thread has also meant a lot to me personally.
We came up with this idea while planning our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. All members of the PressPad team had been moved by what had happened to George Floyd. After reflecting, we decided we wanted to do something as a company in response and eventually, someone came up with an idea of a thread. We tweeted it out and were overwhelmed by the number of replies and we soon realised it was going to be a bigger job than anticipated. In the end 120 of people were recommended to us and I have spent the last few weeks researching each and every person on that list. While it was hard at times essentially stalking these individuals for their work and achievements so I can give a worthy accurate summary, I had a fun time doing it!
Read the thread below!
Hi, my name is Ayomikun Adekaiyero & if you didn’t know I’m the social media editor of PressPad. Being black myself, I was personally moved by the events in America & wanted to do what I could to help make up for all the times I have not stood up against the racism towards me.— PressPad (@PressPadUK) June 5, 2020
I feel lucky to be able to do this because it has allowed me to see people like me doing the career I want to go into. When I started my journey in journalism I knew there wouldn’t be many other journalists who were like me. However, I did not know how little it was until I saw PressPad tweet out last Autumn that black journalists only make up 0.2% of the journalism industry. This statistic actually came from a study by Reuters in 2015 but that was only a couple of years ago, so the findings are still shocking. This did not put me off journalism because I am used to being one of the few black people, or even only non-white person in the room.
However, writing this list and finding out about all the amazing work people in the industry like me have done has been an amazing eye-opener and gives me hope for the future. I hope it also does the same for other young journalists wondering if there is space in journalism for them. And from doing the list, I now know there is space for us in all different types of journalism. The list includes finance journalists, podcasters, entertainment reporters, editors and even aspiring science journalists. You may be the only black journalist in the newsroom, but you will never be alone.
What I learnt?
I need to sort out my online portfolio
The first of the many lessons I’ve learnt from doing the Twitter thread is that I need to make sure my online portfolio is easy to find. I realised this when searching for recent work by some of the journalists on the list as some took me a long time to find. I then had to crosscheck to make sure it was actually them and not someone with the same name. This made me think that if someone was to find any of my social profiles, would they be able to then look me up easily? I haven’t been able to do it yet but taking inspiration from some of the journalists I did research into, I might have to repurpose my accounts so that they are ready for the day an employer searches for me on Google when I apply for a job.
I’ve got a lot of competition
Looking at the amazing work by black journalists my age or a little older than me has reminded me that I need to stop making excuses for myself because I’ve got some catching up to do. As much as these people are an inspiration, they are also my competition for the ever-decreasing number of journalism jobs and this is not even including the other 99.8% of the journalists in the industry. I cannot just rely on my university work and a few extracurriculars to help me when I get thrust into the job market next year. My studies are important, but I am now determined to do as much as I can outside it as well. I recently started contributing to a news website and vowed to take my blog more seriously. I may even pitch to a publication as a paid gig, once I’ve learnt to overcome my imposter syndrome. Once that happens, the world better watch out because I am not throwing away my shot.
There is no one right path but you also don’t need to walk this path alone
If you look at every single person on this list you would see that there are tons of different roads into journalism. Some didn’t start out as journalists, or journalism is not their main line of work. Some got in through schemes and some through freelancing. I need to remember this and not give up if I don’t have a clear and defined path in my years ahead. There is a place for me in journalism and if it doesn’t show up immediately I am willing to wait for it. But until then, I need to make the most of the opportunities I can get.
I also noticed that there are plenty of publications being created for people of colour to get their start. There are well known publications such as Black Ballad and gal-dem but also smaller ones which I found while making the list such as Ashamed Magazine. These publications are for women and non-binary people of colour but there are plenty of other initiatives to support black men and women such as We are Black Journos.
I am grateful that I had the incredible experience of writing this thread and also this blog post, especially for an enterprise that is striving to make journalism more accessible for people like me. If you haven’t already I would advise you to properly go through the Twitter list and follow everyone, or at least those that interest you.
I do want to add that the fight isn’t limited to just black people or isolated to race alone. There are so many other voices that are often forgotten about and need to be elevated. A truly diverse media will have all kinds of voices from all across the country, with backgrounds from all across the world, full of different experiences and life viewpoints. This concept may seem a bit utopian but we must aim for it. If you are one of these voices, tag PressPad in your tweets or DM PressPad and I will definitely shout out your work. We are always here to support the work of up and coming journalists, especially those from underrepresented communities.
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