I attended the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Black Members Council (BMC) conference today and learnt of some staggering issues regarding the Media. For all those Black and Ethnic Minority Journalism hopefuls, be warned, a bumpy ride awaits you my friends, so be ready!
There is no one Black person that manages or has a senior position in any of the national newspapers and Television in the UK – even the BBC, which seems to be the best portrayal of Ethnic Minority in the Media. Most of these companies are owned by middle-ages white men with very rigid ideas as to what they want to see on their TV and whom they want to be represented by.
Today, you are more likely to see black people on National Television (as news reporters, presenters, etc) than ten years ago, but have you thought why? Traditionally, black people were in the backroom. For example, if you go to a hotel, you will always find a beautiful white woman sitting at the reception to welcome the visitors, and where are the black people – always in the kitchen. So why has this changed now? Why are black people all of a sudden appearing on National Television screens as the faces of major news channels despite the fact that they hold no managerial positions? The answer is simple – Because they are there simply for decoration purposes.
Black people, after coming across hundreds of hurdles, rigorous job interviews, and endless hours of fetching tea and biscuits for their senior white editors, might faintly have a chance of being employed by a National newspaper (if they are lucky). And once employed by a newspaper or a Television, retention rates are very, very low and there is absolutely no chance for progression. Management is always the specialty of a White, Middle-class, Oxbridge-educated male. You won’t find black people in roles where decision making is required or to represent a National Newspaper! They don’t mind having black people as long as they are not too many and are doing subordinate roles.
The prime reason the Media employ black and Ethnic Minority journalists is solely to ‘show’ the powers that be that they are recruiting on fair grounds and are fully aware of the Discrimination Laws, and, of course, to re-assure the Ethnic Minority that there is a voice for them in the Media. However, whether the black people in the media represent the voice of the Ethnic Minority groups they were born into or not is still a bone for contention.
Which left me wondering, is it that Black people are not “British enough” to represent or manage a British newspaper, for I have nothing else to think of that could be deemed rational in the light of these findings. But whatever the reasons are for such domination of the Media by the white-middle-class-males, it is not something that will be easily ended soon I believe!