Half of all shortlisted applicants for reporter vacancies at The Birmingham Mail and sister website Birmingham Live will be from an ethnic minority background, editor Marc Reeves has claimed.
Reeves revealed on Twitter that he was looking to appoint more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to the two Birmingham newsrooms, which split in September last year.
This applies to the four positions currently advertised for senior and trainee reporters at the West Midlands office.
Reeves said: “I’ve been posting a lot about our reporter vacancies at Birmingham Live, and thought it was worth mentioning that each shortlist will comprise 50 per cent BAME candidates.”
As it stands, Birmingham Live has 30 editorial staff and 10 per cent are of an ethnic minority, which Reeves said wasn’t good enough given that “Birmingham is approaching 50 per cent BAME people”.
Speaking to Press Gazette, Reeves, who has been at the paper for nearly five-years, said he wanted his Birmingham newsroom to be a lot more “representative to the people we try our best to serve”.
He added: “It has been a long realisation that, despite our best intentions, our newsrooms, especially mine in Birmingham, is not getting more diverse quickly enough.”
Discussing how the recruitment process will work, Reeves said: “We are monitoring all applications as they come in – we are doing our best as some people don’t want to state their origin, which isn’t necessary, but we will do our best to get people’s background at the pre-interview stage.
“The proof will be in the pudding, once we get to the end of the process that’s when we will be able to tell if we got it right and if we reached enough people.”
The announcement comes a year after Mike Norton, editor of the Bristol Post said his paper had “too few” ethnic minority writers.
In a comment piece in November 2017, Norton said neither black journalists or black communities are “well represented” at the paper.
He added: “The Post has undoubtedly contributed to the cultural divide that plagues our city [Bristol].”
Birmingham Mail publisher Reach is also targeting BAME recruits for its apprenticeship scheme, to work across all of its titles.
Reeves said: “Diversity is something that’s being taken very seriously at Reach, hence the apprenticeship programme that’s been rolled out across the company.
“It is a very specific angle to improve and increase BAME representation. The company has also started a women’s network across all the departments in the past year.”