New research by Women in Journalism highlights lack of media diversity

Posted on: September 17, 2020 by Claire Meadows

New research conducted by Women in Journalism (WiJ) highlights a lack of diversity when it comes to both the journalists and experts featured in newspapers, radio and television prime-time news programmes in the UK, it has been reported.

The research, published yesterday, also found that when Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) expert guests were asked to appear on prime-time radio and TV news, this was often to support coverage related to race.

Responding to the research, WIJ chair Eleanor Mills said that the findings showed a shocking lack of media diversity and that it was time for decisive change.

She said: “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”

The report is based on a first-of-its-kind dataset comprising a week-long tally in July 2020 of the gender and ethnicity of reporters, presenters, expert guests and anyone quoted on the front page of the major newspapers and some prime time news programmes on radio and television. The newspapers included were the 11 major national titles and the programmes covered were prime-time news programmes at breakfast, lunch and drivetime as well as 10pm bulletins.

Key findings of the report in relation to the national print media found that just one in four bylines were attributed to women out of 174 front-page bylines that were studied. Out of 111 people quoted on the front pages during the sample week, just 16% were women and only one was a black woman. The research also found that seven out of the 11 major newspapers checked did not feature a single BAME reporter on the front page during the period of its study.

In relation to broadcast coverage, while the report acknowledged that prime-time TV presenters tend to be relatively diverse, (around 30%) it found 12% of reporters are from a BAME background and the experts that they call on are far more likely to be men than women. Out of 877 expert guests featured on prime-time TV news shows during the week in question, just 30% were women. Out of a combined total of 816 expert guests appearing over the course of all 133 prime-time radio newscasts, 68% were men during the same study week.

The study also reported that while BAME expert guests were asked to appear on prime-time radio and TV news, it was often to support coverage related to race. Out of all BAME expert guests’ appearances on TV programmes studied during the period, more than half were in the context of coverage either directly related to race, such as for topics involving colonialism and Black Lives Matter, or during coverage of BAME communities.

The report can be read here.