Report: Mainstream media exhibits shocking lack of diversity

The mainstream media exhibits a striking lack of diversity when it comes to both journalists and the experts they feature, a new report has found.

The study of national TV, radio and newspapers by Women In Journalism reveals that during one week in July not a single black reporter was featured on the front page of any of the national newspapers.

For a week in mid-July, WiJ’s researchers read the front page of every major newspaper, watched all prime-time showings of several popular TV news channels, and listened to around 100 hours of prime-time radio news coverage in an effort to better understand the level of diversity in today’s media landscape.

They also collected information on the topics covered by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) expert guests featured across all three mediums.

The study also found that:

  • Out of the 111 people quoted on the front pages, just one was a black woman. That was Jen Reid, ​quoted​ in The Guardian after a statue of her was erected in the place of that of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
  • Seven of the 11 major newspapers checked did not feature a single BAME reporter on the front page.
  • While prime-time TV presenters tend to be​ ​relatively diverse, (around 30%)​ ​only 12% of reporters are from a Black or BAME background and the experts that they call on are far more likely to be men than women.
  • Newsnight failed to include a single non-white expert guest.
  • When BAME expert guests were asked to appear on prime-time radio and TV news, it was often to support coverage related to race.
  • Every single prime-time presenter on LBC was white and all 27 slots were filled by men apart from Shelagh Fogarty on at 1-4pm and Rachel Johnson on at 6-7pm on Friday July 17th. Out of the 119 times a reporter was featured on LBC’s prime-time programmes, just 23% were women, and every single one was white.
  • Out of a total of 723 prime-time radio reporter appearances across the radio news monitored, just 4 were by black women.

“I knew the media was white, but after counting the number of non-white presenters, reporters and experts over the week I am really shocked by the lack of diversity,”​ said Amal Warsame, lead researcher of the study.

Eleanor Mills, Chair of Women in Journalism, added: “The media becomes a distorting lens not a reflective mirror when the media teams who cover stories do not reflect the diverse make-up of our society. It is time for decisive change.”

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