• Jayda Etienne

Does British Media Accurately Reflect British People?

New research conducted by Women in Journalism highlights the shocking lack of diversity in British newsrooms.

After the death of George Floyd and the swathes of Black Lives Matter protests that followed in England and around the world, many British media outlets promised to better reflect the communities they serve. Women in Journalism spent a week at Britain’s prime new programmes to see whether media outlets fulfilled their promise.

In a full report and press release detailing their key findings, this is some of what they uncovered…

• Not a single story by a Black reporter appeared on the front page of a UK newspaper.

• Only six front page stories were written by BAME reporters. Three BAME men wrote four of the stories, and two were written by BAME women.

• Not a single Black man or woman journalist had written an article on the front page of any of the newspapers during the monitored period.

• Out of 174 front page bylines, just two were written by BAME women.

• Out of 111 people quoted in front page stories over the course of the week, just one was a Black woman.

• Out of all Black and BAME expert guest appearances on TV, more than half were in the context of coverage either directly related to race, or during coverage of non-white communities, or during coverage focussing on predominantly non-white countries.

Each of these statistics paint a rather troubling picture of the make-up of British media in 2020...

...but the statistic that shocked me the most was the fact that out of 111 people quoted in front page stories, just one was a Black Woman.

This suggests that Black Women aren’t just being under represented in news production, but also not listened to by news media, or seen as valuable sources with stories worthy of being told.

The role of Journalism in society isn’t just to supply vital information, but it’s also about speaking truth to power, and giving a voice to the voiceless. But how does that work if the very news outlets whose goal is to speak the truth and be that voice, are ignoring and obscuring the contributions of specific groups in society?

If the British media expects to engage and connect with the British people, how can they do so when a significant percentage of the population isn’t just been under-represented but hardly represented at all?

The death of George Floyd put Black Lives Matter at the forefront of society, but as the protests disperse and the hashtags stop trending it is clear that, with regards to the British media, not a lot was learnt and not much has changed.


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