Media organisations in Scotland are under a duty to promote diversity in their workplaces.
That was one of the outcomes agreed by a panel discussion on the topic: ‘Developing Diversity in Scottish media’ on 11 October 2012
Picture: Jacqueline Farr
The event, jointly hosted by NUJ Scotland and CRER (Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights) was part of a series of events in Glasgow for Black History Month.
Chaired by the NUJ Assistant Organiser, Dominic Bascombe, the panel included Paul Holleran (Scottish Organiser), Beltus Etchu (Founder of Radio Kilimanjaro), Karin Goodwin (Media Officer at Scottish Refugee Council) and Marcus Ryder (BBC Scotland Investigations Editor).
The panel discussed the barriers facing black and minority ethnic journalists working in Scottish media, and explored ideas for promoting greater diversity across race, gender, sexual orientation and disability.
Ryder explained that while the BBC has been successful in meeting diversity targets generally, there is a dearth of such talent at managerial level.
“Disability is not well represented…and as we go up the pay grade, women are not doing well either,” he added.
While the absence of BME and other diverse groups was a real problem at the BBC, the situation was different at more specialist outlets.
Beltus Etchu, founder of Radio Kilimanjaro, a community online radio station broadcasting from Ibrox in south Glasgow, explained how his station has achieved success.
“Radio Kilimanjaro was set up to build capacity amongst BME communities as there are currently opportunities lacking for them to get involved in this particular field,” he explained.
“The community radio station helps them to build confidence and capacity with the aim of helping them to get into mainstream radio.”
NUJ Scottish Organiser Paul Holleran also argued for greater diversity amongst the media workforce.
“Currently, Scottish media is dominated by white males,” he said.
“The fact that BME individuals can’t identify themselves with individuals in this industry can often result in lack of desire to move into media field.”
The panel ultimately agreed that there was a clear need for media outlets and BME organisations to work together to develop a more diverse workforce.
“An absence of diverse groups in the makeup of the workforce also affects the stories that are written,” said Holleran.
“Diversity in the workplace would help to deal with negative stereotypes. Currently, refugees and asylum seekers are the only groups that have been highlighted in the media. With the exception of that, there is not a lot of positive coverage on BME groups that are doing good work.”