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‘Too few ethnic minority journalists on our staff’ admits regional daily editor

Mike NortonA regional daily editor has admitted that his newspaper has “too few” ethnic minority journalists and has contributed to a “cultural divide” on his patch.

Bristol Post editor Mike Norton, left, says neither black writers or black communities are “well represented” on the paper.

His comments came in a column announcing the Post’s support for a campaign to tackle the under-representation of ethnic minorities in the city.

The campaign, called ‘The Year of Change’, hopes to generate discussions on why black and minority ethnic (BME) people aren’t properly represented in Bristol and why the city is so culturally divided.

Launched by community radio station founder Roger Griffith, the campaign also aims to get the city to properly acknowledge its role in the transatlantic slave trade, in the way that Germany acknowledges its role in the Holocaust.

In his column, Mike described Bristol as culturally “a bit of an embarrassment” after a ‘dissimilarity index’ report this year found its schools are the most ethnically divided in England.

He went on: “The Post is no better. Too few of my staff are from the BME community and neither black writers nor black communities are well represented in the paper or on our website. And, over the years, the Post has undoubtedly contributed to the cultural divide that plagues our city.

“Now, of course, this wasn’t intentional exclusion. None of it happened by design. But that doesn’t make it acceptable.

“So why aren’t BME people properly represented in Bristol? Why is our city so culturally divided? Why don’t we want to talk about the legacy of the slave trade, even though hundreds of white Bristolians were also exploited by it? Why do we want to distance ourselves from our history?

“I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I do know that this situation is unhealthy and unsustainable. And I want this newspaper to be part of the movement that is seeking to change it.”

Mike said the ‘Year of Change’ campaign should not be “a cue for trite, municipal apologies or for Bristol to beat itself up about its past”, but about “a desire to find agreement in voices from across the city”.

A new play about the slave trade, The Meaning of Zong, is set to be performed in Bristol next year.

Mike added: “I sincerely hope that this play, our city conversations and Roger’s Year of Change will help Bristol to find a way of properly recognising and moving on from its difficult past.

“But this is about Bristol’s future, too. Let’s make history show 2018 as the year when we took the first steps together towards creating a truly united city.”


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  • November 15, 2017 at 10:05 am

    It should always be the aspiration of newsrooms to accurately reflect the communities they serve, and they should do everything they can to achieve that make-up. However, the reason for the continuing imbalance is simple: people from ethnic minorities are fiercely aspirational and – there’s no kind way of putting this – journalism just isn’t seen as a proper or even respectable job. The pay, status and conditions don’t come close to matching the professions such as the law or accountancy. When I was an editor I took someone on who looked horribly crestfallen when I gave him the job, not exactly the reaction I had been expecting. When I asked what was wrong, he said that he dreaded telling his parents who fervently wanted him to become a lawyer. He was an excellent trainee, but left after two years to become… a lawyer.

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  • November 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    First it was a profession, then a trade, and now just a job.
    Poor pay often means scraping the barrel for staff. Some people boasting (true) of being journalists should have never been let loose in a newsroom, but they are cheap. No wonder the ethnic minorities mostly have the good sense to stay away.

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  • November 15, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Rather than recruit ethnic-minority staff, it would be easier and cheaper to create the same net result and public visual impression by simply ‘blacking up’ existing newsroom employees, or printing false byline pictures showing dark skin.

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  • November 16, 2017 at 8:58 am

    ‘Too few journalists on our staff’ admit regional daily editors

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  • November 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    My comments are echoes of earlier ones, but better pay, conditions and prospects for young reporters would encourage people of all backgrounds to consider journalism as a career.
    I broke in almost 10 years ago, and event that period seems like halcyon days compared to the state of the industry now.
    What have we got to entice aspiring reporters and, even more so, photographers into the business nowadays?

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