10 Easy Steps to Improve Media Diversity in Your Daily Routine

 

Research continues to show the UK media continues to be white, posh, inaccessible to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, lacking journalists from beyond the M25 and the South East, and unrepresentative of our diverse society - all of which are reasons for a lack of trust in the media according to experts. 

Of course, much is up to those at the helm making changes from the top down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t each start taking steps from the bottom up. We at PressPad believe that we can all play a part in achieving lasting change, no matter our background or current position - including you! 

Ready to get involved? These are 10 steps you can take in your everyday routine to improve diversity in the media.

Be honest about your experience and how you got there

So often we see job klaxons, promotions, and career announcements. What we don’t see is how people got to where they are. The previous work they did, the people they met who maybe helped them, what they did to make their application stand out. Career journeys are hardly ever linear. Transparency about how you got to where you are will help anyone hoping to achieve the same. Learning about your setbacks as well as your wins, will give confidence to others to keep going.

There are other elements to being this, too. That persisting gender pay gap (which gets even more complex and wider when intersecting with other demographics such as race, social class, or disability)? Currently, banishing it entirely is still a dream, but we would definitely achieve progress faster, if each and every one of us was transparent about their salaries - male or female. 

Amplify the voices of your peers - especially those who are struggling to get heard

Have a colleague who you see isn’t getting noticed for their creativity? Tell them what you think of their ideas. It can be such a boost for someone who maybe doesn’t have the confidence to speak up or confidence in their abilities (hello, imposter syndrome) to hear their ideas are good. If you’re in a meeting with others, throw their name and work in the ring. See someone’s work on social media that you like? Share it to your followers; say how much you like it. Validation is something that can be given in seconds through the form of a like, retweet, or even a quick instant message to say you enjoyed their work and can help promote more diverse voices.

Burst your bubble - Question your own biases, read, and share the voices of those trying to make a difference

All of us will have a tendency to follow the voices of what and who we know. Echo chambers are a thing. While often used to describe the closeted views of extremist views fuelled by the internet, we all live in our own, softer version of them online). 

The best way to really hear a diverse range of voices and become aware of the different challenges and barriers others might face - as well as seeing the amazing work many journalists out there do - is to actively seek to expand your network.

Read widely, search for publications other than mainstream national outlets, and/or follow other journalists with different life experiences on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Share opportunities with people - your colleagues, your acquaintances, your social media network

See a job description you think would be perfect for someone? Share it with them. The media industry is so hard to get into and advance in - many of us know that through experience. But this should not mean that we all fall into the trap of hustle culture. Sharing jobs or opportunities with others means people might see something they otherwise would not have been aware of. Moreover, you sharing these opportunities will also make people remember you. Social contagion is a thing and chances are you will find opportunities sent to you by others in your inbox just as much!

Recommend people for opportunities

Think someone is up for a job advertised at your work? Tell them to apply and share your endorsement with your employer. References can be a key factor for those making hiring decisions.

It’s also worth passing the buck outside of work  if and when you can. If you get offered an opportunity and think it’s not for you, pass it on, and suggest someone you know who you think might be a better fit. That quick action could help someone get their foot in the door!

Offer your time and help to those who are starting out or those working alongside you

Offer your time on social media - open your DMs to new and/or aspiring journalists to get in touch and ask questions. Offer to look over people’s CV’s. There are many ways you can help that do not actually require a lot of time. 

Stay up to date on research on diversity issues:

All of us at PressPad have been shouting about the diversity issues in the media for years. We regularly share underrepresented voices as well as resources to help people get into journalism, improve social mobility, be a good mentor, and more on our website [[[LINK]]].

However, we are not alone. There is an abundance of research out there highlighting the stark inequalities in the industry. The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), for example, publishes its Diversity in Journalism report every year. 

This year’s report, once again revealed how much work still needs to be done. Only 12% of journalists come from non-white backgrounds, most are degree educated, and when it comes to social class, things are actually going backwards. More journalists, particularly those entering the industry, had a parent who works/has worked in a higher-level occupation - one of the key determinants of social class. 72% of journalists had a parent in one of the three highest occupational groups while only 14% have/ had a parent in the lowest two occupational groups. Shocking, right? This is why we all need to do more to improve diversity in the media.

Something wrong? Call it out

If you see something you feel is wrong, speak up. Workplace bullying or discrimination, favouritism towards certain people or groups, unfair working conditions, pay gaps, and more are all still too present in the current media landscape. The only way these will be addressed is by bringing issues to the forefront. If we all take a backseat and wait for someone else to raise the alarm, how can we be sure that someone ever will? 

We know it isn’t always easy and that workplace structures or environments can sometimes seem (or be) hostile, but turning a blind eye is what let’s practices continue. It may be risky, and it definitely is challenging, but raising - and addressing - what is wrong currently will help so many people in future.

The good news is - you don’t have to do this alone. If you are looking for support, there are organisations like ours that will support you through these conversations (see below).

Join the movement:

There are so many organisations (including us!) that support journalists and media professionals. Some are unions, others are collectives and support networks. Many share that they want the media to be more inclusive for all. Find your allies to feel supported to convert those that aren’t on board yet to join you in the mission.

These are some (although definitely not all!) of the many organisations and online communities supporting journalists and media professionals out there:

Got a spare room and want to help diversify the media? Give back by becoming a PressPad host!

Unpaid or poorly paid internships in expensive cities are becoming an inescapable catch-22 for aspiring journalists. Through our unique hosting scheme, We connect aspiring and new journalists with senior colleagues in the media who have a spare room for affordable, safe and hassle-free accommodation and mentorship during work placements or internship – think AirBnB meets Linkedin with great advice thrown in!

Got a spare room and want to get involved? Find out more about our scheme and how to sign up as a host here.

No spare room but want to help?

There are three main ways to you can help if you can’t or don’t want to host:

  • Register as a volunteer Register here
  • Donate to The PressPad Charitable Foundation, which has just launched a fund to pay for host-mentorship for young people who don’t have a media sponsor: Donate here
  • Provide holistic mentoring for those who may have never left home or been in a professional setting before.