Hugh Muir: Diversity Includes a Social Deprivation

Published: 22 May 2015

Country: UK

Journalism_Students“We need more diversity in our media. We need more minorities, women, and journalists with disabilities in our newsrooms.” Diversity advocates, including the Guardian’s columnist Hugh Muir, keep repeating and explaining why the UK media need more diverse content that get produced in not so diverse newsrooms. But in this week’s article Muir suggested that “along with women, people from minorities and those with disabilities, we also need to hear from those who have suffered social deprivation.”

“We lack not just people who fit the diversity critieria of race and sex and gender, but also those whose difference is rooted in circumstance, deprivation and class. The good thing is that the diversity fund sees that deficiency and gives everyone a chance, but there is only so much this initiative and others like it can do about a deep-rooted problem. This matters. Until we open things up, much of the news you read will continue to be much of a muchness,” wrote Muir for the Guardian.

Explaining the state of media industry, particularly the London-based national media, Muir added that “an applicant can very reasonably cite themselves as a bringer of diversity by being a non-graduate or coming from a council estate”.

Industry itself has set up the Journalism Diversity Fund, an industry-funded initiative that helps those who want to train and enter the profession but can’t afford to.

According to National Union of Journalists (NUJ), more than half (54%) of 100 leading news and current affairs journalists were privately educated, although just seven per cent of the population in the UK are educated privately.

“It is difficult obtaining hard and fast facts on social class in journalism. ‘Journalists at Work’, a survey carried out by the Journalism Training Forum in 2002 found that: 96 per cent of journalists were white; 55 per cent worked in London and the South East; journalism was increasingly becoming middle and upper-middle class in its composition; and 3 per cent of new entrants came from families headed by someone in a semi or unskilled job. We suspect that in 2012, the situation is very similar,” stated NUJ.