94% of UK journalists are white - and young people could be discouraged from the profession due to racism denial

Friday, 12th March 2021, 4:24 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 4:24 pm
94% of UK journalists are white - and young people could be discouraged from the profession due to racism denial (Photo: Shutterstock)

The denial of racism within the UK media could be a factor in discouraging young people of colour from pursuing a career in journalism, lecturers have warned.

Backlash was caused in the wake of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, after they accused the UK press of being “bigoted”. The Society of Editors released a statement denying any sort of racism within the industry, which has since received criticism.

‘A long way to go’

Speaking to The Independent, Hannah Ajala, lecturer and founder of the support platform We Are Black Journos, said the journalism sector in the UK had a “long way to go”.

Ms Ajala added: “The ignorant statement could potentially turn off budding journalists as it may suggest that other editors in high positions have a similar mindset.

“British journalism has a long way to go, so him stepping down was a great decision. I hope his replacement understands the needs of the role.”

Ian Murray, the Society of Editor’s executive director, stepped down on Wednesday (10 Mar) following backlash towards both the organisation’s statement and his own comments in a subsequent interview. He said his departure would allow the group to “rebuild its reputation”.

The original Society of Editors statement claimed it was “not acceptable” for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to make claims of racism in the UK press “without supporting evidence”. The statement went on to say the UK press was not racist.

94% of UK journalists are white

Studies have found the racial demographic of the UK media industry to be 94 per cent white, while just 0.2 per cent of journalists in the UK are black.

Simon Hinde told The Independent: “Many of our students want to go into journalism precisely because they care deeply about issues of social justice”.

Mr Hinde, who is head of journalism and publishing department at the London College of Communication, added: “For an industry body to issue a statement that so obviously flies in the face of reality is bound to be discouraging.”

Mr Hinde has called for the body to retract the statement and appoint more people of colour to its board.