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An Asian view of media diversity

There is a thoughtful response to Mary Fizpatrick, the BBC’s diversity director, at the Asians in Media web magazine.

Fitzpatrick said (Daily Telegraph report) she was tired of repeatedly seeing programmes where the situation “here we are in Africa, and here’s a white person saying, well, look at these people”.

Rehna Azim, writing under a heading “We just need better journalists” is sceptical of Fitzpatrick’s suggestion of culturally appropriate reporters for certain stories. She writes:

So for example if there was a riot in a predominantly Muslim area of Britain, the person telling us about it should ideally be a Muslim journalist who will have a “better understanding of the issues”.

Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. That will depend on the individual reporter.

If he is a middle-class Muslim who went to private school, Oxbridge and lives in say, Tunbridge Wells, he may have less in common with unemployed youths who have lived in an exclusively Muslim community ‘oop north’ all their lives and are mired in the politics of their local mosque, than a working-class white lad who worked hard to get a job at the BBC or on a national newspaper.

But Azim does criticise the lack of Asians with editorial power. She is worth reading in full. My worry is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for difficult for her “working class lad” (or lass) of any ethnicity to get into journalism.

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  1. Rob Skinner says

    Fitzpatrick is surely confusing the admirable desire for the British media to reflect better the ethnic diversity of modern British society with a far more dubious idea that journalists reporting from Africa should reflect the ethnicity of the country they are reporting from. Why not insist the BBC’s Washington correspondent is an American? Should the Times of India only carry reports from Britain from British born reporters? In other words, taken to its logical conclusion Ms Fitzpatrick’s view would reduce diversity in journalism.