I spent a morning last week interviewing applicants for the Journalism Diversity Fund, an industry-funded initiative that helps those who want to train and enter the profession but can’t afford to. If they can secure a place on a National Council for the Training of Journalists training course, convince of the need for assistance and show how the media might be enhanced in terms of diversity by their enlistment as a practitioner, they can receive financial assistance.
It’s our way of trying to bring new voices and new experiences into British journalism.Right, right. And..?
I very much commend it. But one thing strikes. Over the years, the calculation of what is needed to achieve a diverse workforce has changed. We need more minority journalists, more women, more journalists with disabilities; to finally tick all of the long-established boxes.Because it’s all about ticking boxes. That’s all that counts. It’s no longer a case of how good you might be at a job, but whether you fit into a predetermined slot on someone’s diversity board.
But that board is getting larger and larger…
But such is the state of our industry, particularly the London-based national media, that an applicant can very reasonably cite themselves as a bringer of diversity by being a non-graduate or coming from a council estate. Or being someone whose chances are limited by illness in the family, or unemployment, or because they have been working a zero-hours contract.
We lack not just people who fit the diversity critieria of race and sex and gender, but also those whose difference is rooted in circumstance, deprivation and class.Well, what a dilemma. Here’s a thought, Hugh. Just recruit people. People who are good at what they do.
And stop worrying about quotas, since they’ll eventually be so wide, they’ll encompass everyone anyway…