Ethnic minorities are still “largely absent" from opinion pages, senior management roles and staff jobs in the UK press, according to a new survey by New Statesman magazine.
The magazine conducted the survey in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence verdict and Diane Abbott’s tweet last week, which it said had put racism “at the top of the political agenda".
It pointed out: “To coincide with a special report on race in the British media for this week’s magazine, we have compiled shocking statistics which show ethnic minorities are still largely absent from opinion pages, senior executive roles and staff jobs in the media”.
The NS survey revealed:
* 2 of the 99 named witnesses at the Leveson inquiry into the press are from ethnic minorities
* 1 of the 100 most important media people in the Guardian’s 2011 guide was not white
* 0 national newspaper editors are non-white
* 0 national newspaper political editors are non-white
The magazine also surveyed the main comment pages of selected newspapers from December 5-11 to count the number of non-white writers who appeared.
It found that three newspapers did not have a single non-white writer on their comment pages and that only five non-white writers have a regular weekly column among the broadsheets.
The magazine identified these five as: The Guardian- Gary Younge and Hugh Muir (both black); The Independent/i - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Amol Rajan (both Asian) and The Sunday Times – India Knight (mixed race).
The survey produced the following results on non-white writers/total number of writers (including Sunday sister publications):
* The Times/Sunday Times: 2/39
* The Independent/Independent on Sunday: 1/34
* I: 1/14
* The Guardian/Observer: 4/48
* The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday: 0/23
* The Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph: 0/46
* The Daily Express/Sunday Express: 0/22
* The Financial Times: 3/35
Elsewhere in the magazine’s special report on race, its magazine's chief political commentator Rafael Behr, a former chief leader writer on The Observer, questioned whether the Westminster lobby could report fairly on issues of race when they are “almost exclusively white, forty-something men”.
He observed that while newspapers were keen to report the decline of racism after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, “there was something mildly ridiculous about a bunch of white men sitting in all-white newsrooms, asking white journalists on their staff if they knew any black people who might want to write about how racism is no longer such an issue”.
Behr claims the issue surfaced again following Diane Abbot’s “divide & rule" tweet last week, stating that “you could taste the relish of white men enjoying the opportunity to feel themselves the victims, for once, of racism, as if a single casual generalisation about the cultural and ethnic majority reset the dial of all grievance to zero: generations of prejudice v one nasty remark on the internet”.
The New Statesman’s senior editor (politics) Mehdi Hasan commented: "In 2012, 64 years after the arrival of the Empire Windrush on our shores, 36 years after the passage of the third Race Relations Act, 19 years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the great British commentariat is, in effect, a mono-racial, monocultural closed shop."