More Than 200 Journalists Sign Letter Saying UK Media ‘In Denial’ About Racism
More than 200 journalists of colour have signed a letter rebuking a statement from the Society of Editors, writing that it clearly shows an industry in ‘denial’.
At the beginning of this week, Oprah Winfrey’s two-hour-long interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aired in the US and the UK.
During the sitdown, the couple revealed the role the media had played in their departure from the Royal Family, as well as the effects it had on the Duchess of Sussex’s mental health.
Prince Harry claimed that the media onslaught directed at Meghan Markle following their wedding was underpinned with racial undertones.
Shortly after the interview aired, the Society of Editors released a statement that the ‘UK media is not bigoted’.
‘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 statement said.
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said, ‘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.’
The open letter, which has 244 signatories so far, said the journalists ‘deplore and reject the statement issued by the Society of Editors, denying the existence of racism and bigotry in the UK press’.
‘The Society of Editors should have used the comments by the Sussexes to start an open and constructive discussion about the best way to prevent racist coverage in future, including through addressing lack of representation in the UK media, particularly at a senior level,’ the signatories said.
They added, ‘The blanket refusal to accept there is any bigotry in the British press is laughable, does a disservice to journalists of colour and shows an institution and an industry in denial.’
According to a survey conducted by City University in 2006, the British journalism industry is 94% white.
‘At a time when many industries and companies are engaged in a reckoning with race in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, we believe it would be a better use of the Society of Editors’ time to reflect on the lack of diversity, particularly at senior levels within the UK media, which contributes to the negative narratives in the UK media, which have been highlighted,’ the letter said.
Following the backlash, the Society of Editors put out a new statement, writing that the previous statement 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’.
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