Journalism must halt drift into 'unintended apartheid'

Hargreaves: "industry must act"

Only 4 per cent of journalists come from ethnic backgrounds and nearly all are from white, middle-class families, a new survey has revealed.

Ian Hargreaves, chair of the Journalism Training Forum, which commissioned the survey, claimed at its launch this week that journalism was "drifting into a kind of unintended apartheid".

He said the industry needed to take action to make sure its journalists more closely reflected the ethnic and social mix of the population

Guardian Media Group chief executive Bob Phillis said the industry must confront the equality issue and "look in the mirror and ask how our organisations measure up".

Carlton chief executive Clive Jones, who was also speaking at the launch, echoed BBC director general Greg Dyke’s comment that the BBC was "hideously white" when he claimed "television is dominated by white Anglo-Saxon men and it’s a disgrace."

Peter Cole, head of journalism at the University of Sheffield, said it was "shameful and disgraceful" that papers in Burnley, Bradford and Oldham had so few journalists from ethnic backgrounds.

The survey says: "Some 96 per cent of journalists are white, with small proportions from ethnic minority groups. Given the predominance of the industry in London and the South East, and in other urban areas, this suggests that the industry has not succeeded in reflecting the balance of the population it serves."

The survey estimates that there are around 70,000 journalists in the UK. Of these, 60,000 work in publishing and 10,000 in broadcasting. Industry forecasts quoted in the survey suggest that by 2010 the number of journalists will increase by 20,000.

Over half of all journalists are based in London and the South East.

The survey shows that journalism is one of the few professions to have an almost equal split between the sexes – 51 per cent male and 49 per cent female. It is also young, with 35 per cent aged 22 to 29 and 32 per cent aged between 30 and 39.

A high proportion are single, 41 per cent are divorced and 77 per cent have no dependent children.

Journalism has become a graduates-only occupation, according to the survey, and new entrants to the industry are being drawn overwhelmingly from middle-class families. Only 3 per cent come from homes headed by semi or unskilled workers.

Angela Phillips, from Goldsmiths College, said social diversity was now a major issue for the industry and "the problem is money". She said only those from middle class backgrounds could afford to do "week after week" of unpaid work experience in order to get a job in journalism.

The survey puts average pay at £22,500 and 10 per cent of journalists earn less than £12,000. The regional press has the lowest average wage -£17,500. Women earn an average of £5,000 less than men. Average hours worked are 41.6, compared with a national average of 35 hours.

On a surprisingly positive note, most journalists describe their hours as reasonable, their wages as fair and say they enjoy their jobs.

Cartoon, page 10; feature, page 14

By Jon Slattery

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