MDI Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Date: 23 January 2014

Location: London, UK


The Media Diversity Institute (MDI) celebrated its 15th anniversary by discussing the lack of diversity in newsrooms, media coverage of the immigration as well as hate speech legislation and how to encourage quality and inclusive journalism.

MDI’s event Prime-time for Diversity” (Photos) held on 23rd of January 2014 in London, gathered some of the most prominent journalists and media experts and was moderated by the BBC presenter, Razia Iqbal.

The Guardian’s diary editor Hugh Muir described UK journalists as people who are reporting on their country without knowing what their country looks like. “We report diversity as crisis management. We don’t report diversity in its regularity“, said Muir to the panel and to more than 130 guests.

Discussing the way the media report on immigration, Richard Sambrook, Director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff School of Journalism and former head of BBC Global News, stressed that the public is very much influenced by the way media cover this topic, especially in the last several months before Britain opened its borders to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria.

Daily Mail is the most successful media in the country and that is the problem for this country“, said Sambrook. As a former head of BBC Global News he stressed: “The BBC’s role is to inform, not to reflect public anxiety towards immigration“, while Bettina Peters, the director of development at the Thomson Foundation, emphasised the importance of “asking the real questions” in order to have more diversity in the media.

Just because someone says something hateful, it doesn’t mean it needs to be aired on mainstream media“, said Peters talking about hate speech and how it needs to be discussed on the international level rather than national one.

Agreeing with other panelists on “a grim picture in the media when it comes to diversity,” John Owen, Professor at City University London and Chairman of the Frontline Club said “it is a white male picture“. “That is why more organisations like MDI and more its work is needed”, commented from the audience Aidan White, Director of Ethical Journalism Network and Former Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists.

TEAM_PHOTOAnother of the panelists at MDI’s event was Maria Lipman, the Chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Society and Regions Program. Speaking about the situation in the Russian media today, Lipman explained how different it is from post-soviet times. “The state, the government interferes with people’s lives and that is not something we had couple of decades ago in Russia” said Lipman.

After the debate on diversity, MDI guests watched a short film by Rani Khanna telling MDI’s 15 year story and giving insights into its work all around the world. It features Milica Pesic, MDI’s Executive Director and the members of her team.