Statement of Clarification 10/3/2021
The board of the Society of Editors has released this statement of clarification following the statement issued on Monday regarding the Duke of Sussex’s comments on the UK media.
“The Society of Editors has a proud history of campaigning for freedom of speech and the vital work that journalists do in a democracy to hold power to account. Our statement on Meghan and Harry was made in that spirit but did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion. We will reflect on the reaction our statement prompted and work towards being part of the solution.”
The UK media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account following the attack on the press by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Society of Editors has commented.
The Duke and Duchess attacked the UK media in an interview with American chat show host Oprah Winfrey which was aired in the United States last night (Sunday) and will be shown in the UK this evening. In further previously unseen excerpts from the interview shown on US breakfast TV this morning Prince Harry says the couple had to leave Britain in part due to racism and felt sections of the British media were to blame.
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it was untrue that sections of the UK press were bigoted.
“It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence. If it is simply the case the Sussexes feel that the press by questioning their actions and commenting on their roles when working as Royals funded by the taxpayer were being racist then they are mistaken,” commented Murray.
“In the case of Meghan Markle and her engagement and marriage to Prince Harry there was universal supporting coverage in the UK media which reflected the warmth shown to the couple by the British people. But that warmth could not and should not mean the press should be expected to refuse to report, investigate and comment on the couple’s lifestyle and actions.
“It is a pity the couple did not mention in their interview the huge support the UK media has shown to the charitable works carried out by the Duke and Duchess. The UK press also played a large role in ensuring the prince’s service in Afghanistan went ahead, agreeing to an embargo on reporting his deployment to enable him to carry out his Army role in the Middle East.
“The UK media has a proud record of calling out racism and also being at the forefront of campaigns to support mental health awareness, another of the issues raised by the couple.
“It is also unreasonable for the Duke and Duchess to conflate the legitimate coverage provided by the edited and regulated UK media with the wild west of social media.
“It is strange indeed, that the couple have attacked the UK media previously for alleged intrusion into their private lives yet have opened up on several occasions to media in the US, the latest event being yesterday’s interview with Oprah Winfrey which will play to a world-wide audience.
“The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence. If sometimes the questions asked are awkward and embarrassing, then so be it, but the press is most certainly not racist. “