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April 6, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:11am

Race and the media: Full PG survey results, analysis, reaction and comment

By Dominic Ponsford

The government race review may have said the UK is a model for other white-majority countries, but as far as race and the media goes – there still appears to be much work to do.

Following Prince Harry’s claim that the tabloid press was bigoted, and subsequent outrage over the Society of Editors’ blanket denial, Press Gazette asked its 10,000 email subscribers what they think. More than 1,000 filled in our survey on race in the media and the results are illuminating:

Press Gazette readers were asked to share their experiences of racism and many did (far more detail in the story links above).

Some examples were overt, most more insidious. Some of the stories were historic, but many were also more up to date. Lack of diversity in newsrooms was the biggest issue that was flagged.

One survey respondent, who identified as a white British manager/editor working on a specialist/business title, said: “In every newsroom I’ve worked in bar one, the only black Brits were the cleaners.”

While the survey sample was self-selecting, it encompassed a broad range of ethnicities and media sectors and was an unprecedented level of engagement for a Press Gazette reader survey.

Race and the media comment/analysis

PG editor in chief Dominic Ponsford: 

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“Looking at the results of our survey, listening to the many journalists who have spoken out on this issue and reading Gerard’s review of coverage – I for one have been doing a lot of reflecting. And I’d like to revise my earlier view and say that Harry has highlighted an issue that needs to be addressed, not just for the tabloids but for our whole industry.”

Ex-BBC journalist Kurt Barling:

“We all know the salt in the sea is there. You can’t see it, but you can smell it and it leaves an unpleasant taste. To many journalists of colour navigating the rough seas of British journalism, this is what the journey can often seem like.”

Liz Gerard investigates press ‘bigotry’:

“It’s fair to say that we’ve come a long way, and the pace of change is quickening. But the complacency and arrogance is shocking.”

Marcus Ryder MBE:

“It’s easy to focus on and attribute explicit racism to a “few bad apples” in an otherwise nice liberal industry. Yet, as black journalists we find ourselves internalising every rejection – blaming ourselves and thinking we need to lean into more training to get better.”

Barbara Blake Hannah Award winner Kuba Shand-Baptiste:

“One of the biggest issues is deep-set cronyism and nepotism in the journalism industry – and an even wider reluctance to even acknowledge that it exists.”

Race and the media survey reaction

Richard Reeves, managing director of the Association for Online Publishing, said: “These findings are hugely disappointing, but sadly not surprising.

“They provide further evidence that there’s a lot more work to be done with most people having experienced some sort of prejudice, and recent high profile examples – like the fallout from the Harry and Meghan interview – demonstrating the magnitude of the problem.”

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