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#DM18: Making training work to increase diversity

Richard Edwards -- media organisations need to get their fingers out  -  © paul herrmann

20 April 2018

During the DM’s section on training, Natasha Hirst, who holds the disabled members’ seat on the NEC, said the NUJ has a very strong commitment to equality and the union campaigns and lobbies on equality issues in the UK, Ireland and internationally.

“But,” she said, “we do not have a clear and coordinated strategy for equality activities and training across the union. We can’t be sure the NUJ’s commitment to equality is always reflected and is embedded throughout our structures in the way it deserves to be.”

She was proposing a motion, which was overwhelmingly carried, which noted the successful events run by NUJ Training in Wales on religious literacy and the NUJ Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project, but added that the NEC must work with the Equality Council to develop and promote equality training for NUJ reps and events to support members to “understand how to accurately and sensitively deal with equalities in their work”.

NEC member James Doherty seconded her saying he was proud at the stand taken at the BBC by Carrie Gracie who had stuck up her head above the parapet to challenge the BBC over equal pay when she was told she earned less than her make international editors because she was “in development”. He said he was proud to see Michelle Stanistreet sitting by her side at the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee standing up for equal pay. He said: “We must fight so that no one in the media has to say #MeToo.”

An Oxford and district motion described the successful meeting the branch had had with a speaker from The Bureau Local, a journalist-led initiative to tell important stories in local communities using data-led reporting to aid investigative journalism. DM agreed to instruct the NEC to work with the bureau to provide training for members.

DM heard that access to a career in journalism was increasingly becoming open to a narrow range of people. Chris Frost, emeritus professor at John Moores University, said during the past 20 years people from poorer backgrounds found it increasingly difficult to get on to journalism courses. 

Richard Edwards, speaking to a motion from his Leeds and Wakefield branch, said he had been inspired to hear from one of the George Viner scholars, Shajan Miah, now a BBC sports writer, who had spoken the previous evening. “George Viner can do only so much,” he said. “Organisations such as the BBC needed to pull out their finger to reach out and recruit a diverse group of people who represent the people we are writing about because we are missing stories.” 

Ann Galpin, member of the Disabled Members’ Council, said disabled journalists found it difficult to get work and were often shoe-horned into writing about only disability issues.  

Delegates voted to instruct the NEC to work with industry bodies to develop a strategy to increase diversity and employ journalists from a wider range of backgrounds and to contact the teaching unions to investigate how a career in journalism can be a realistic aspiration for every young person.

Another motion instructed the NEC to work with the Disabled Members’ Council to improve the access to training and events for disabled members and students.

Tags: , training, #dm18, disabled members council, equality, diversity, dm2018, Carrie Gracie, Bureau Local, george viner memorial fund