The diversity issue newsrooms ignore

Tomorrow's Business

Between 2001 and 2006 I was the Wall Street correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. It is a brilliant job and I had a superb time only interrupted, fairly spectacularly, by 9/11, something that lives with me still. (I really don’t like tall buildings or loud bangs).

Pretty much all of the rest of the foreign desk had come from rarefied public schools, usually Eton.

Over that period, I shared the paper’s beautiful Soho offices with three different New York correspondents, all genuinely spiffing chaps, and all genuinely former head boys at Eton.

I liked to bring this up, just occasionally, remark on the extraordinary statistical coincidence that could have produced this result.

They would take it in good humour at first, before they got defensive and offered this same rebuke: “What have you got to complain about? You’re here too.”

On my own behalf I could not possibly complain. That I might be cross on someone else’s is a not a possibility they teach at Eton.

M’learned colleague Katie Hind of the Mail on Sunday tweeted last week that class is the diversity issue news organisations don’t address.

She’s right.

There are gender and race issues too but mostly it is about money. And the uniformity of journalistic backgrounds changes the way we report nearly everything.

The make-up of newsrooms is so unwavering that this reality never gets discussed.

Trying to counter this is #PressPadRemote, a social enterprise “on a mission to make entry into the exciting world of journalism more accessible than ever”.

You can read all about it here.

It wants to provide a “practical solution to a problem that distorts our media”, so newsrooms are “less dominated by the wealthy and well-connected”.

I’m in.

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