Editor’s comment: We owe it to Hackney to be more like you

The Gazette is visiting Hackney schools to encourage a diverse range of new journalists. Picture: PA

The Gazette is visiting Hackney schools to encourage a diverse range of new journalists. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Journalism isn’t diverse enough.

We are too white, too male, too middle-class, too able-bodied, too heterosexual. Young people’s voices aren’t heard clearly enough, and nor are those of so many other marginalised groups in society.

It’s not hard to see why. British news has been largely white-bread for decades – so expecting people from a more diverse range of backgrounds to suddenly want to work for us when we haven’t demonstrated clearly enough that everyone is welcome is deluded. We are the ones who must change, not the people who aren’t applying for our jobs.

It is a cycle in other ways. Groups that are marginalised in society probably don’t see enough people who look and live like them in our pages, which they might understandably take to mean that equality isn’t important to us. As a result, we continue to over-represent the same groups we always have. People who don’t see themselves reflected in our news coverage are also less likely to think the Gazette is for or by people like them and so less likely to have it in their homes; they and their families are therefore less likely to think of bringing stories to us, working with us, asking us for help. Fixing this isn’t just the right thing to do; it will make our paper better.

But it’ll take more than just platitudes. We must physically go out and find brilliant new people to work for us rather than relying on the same narrow recruitment systems we have always used. We must give voices, and equal prominence, to a wider range of communities.

Any plan to fix the lack of diversity in our industry must start before kids have made choices about their futures. We need to show students that we want and need people like them on our team, or they will dismiss journalism –local journalism, anyway – because they do not see it as relevant or representative.

That’s why, this week, we began a long-overdue project to visit Hackney’s schools – to speak to students about the Gazette and its values, and encourage kids to consider journalism as a career.

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We want to come to your school, too, so we’ll be in touch – but you don’t have to wait for us. If you’re a teacher, parent or pupil, and you’d like us to pay you a visit, let me know.

And in the meantime, we’re working on it. We owe it to Hackney.