by Rudy Katoch
Today we launch our #EightWomen Poll. 134 Notable Women of Colour, all successful in their fields, all have made a difference – but who would you vote has changed the U.K?
The eight women will be revealed at Media Diversity UK’s launch event in late November. You can only vote once so take time to research your entry! Find some of their bios here (courtesy of Britain’s Power List 2013, I’m Possible) and 100 Great Black Britons
More bios will be added over the next two weeks. Voting ends one month from today on the 17th October.
Since its inception on 4 July 2013, the non-profit organisation Media Diversity UK has attracted 104,653 views. Its Twitter account, @WritersofColour, which acts as platform for its articles, has 3,349 followers. Its first article by Yacine Assoudani on multiculturalism garnered three hundred views. On 8 July, Samantha Asumadu, the founder of Media Diversity UK, officially launched the organisation with an article published in the Guardian . It acted as a catalyst for the trend of attracting between 1000 and 10 000 page views every day. What is the reason for its success? In an interview with Joana Romiro, Asumadu says
“There was a Media Diversity shaped hole, for us, for the writers, to get read”.
She was prompted to start the organisation after reading Rodney Sealy’s ‘The ‘Evening Standard’ of Whiteness’ for The Voice. The article collapses the aesthetic and ethical tensions of under-representation of the non-white population in London within the Evening Standard. Approximately, 3.5 million people are being ignored. By creating a locus in which writers of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority ethic) backgrounds could publish their work, Asumadu acts against the current trends in the industry. The 2012 Creative Skillset Employment Census reports that representation of BAME people has declined further since the last Census. Almost 2,000 BAME people have left the industries since 2009 reducing the representation to just 5.4% of the total workforce. With less than 7% of journalists and editors come from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the Professional Publishers Association (PPA), Media Diversity UK aims to combat the lack of ethnic minority representation within the industry and the pages themselves. Foundations for this motivation can be traced to Joseph Harker, the Guardian’s assistant comment editor, work for the British Journalism Review:
“As newspapers face more and more intense competition, both in print and online, surely they can’t afford to ignore Britain’s growing minority populations.”
And yet, they can. Media Diversity UK’s social media campaign #AllWhiteFrontPages, based on probability analysis and statistical evaluation, raises awareness of this issue. Stories, writes Daniel Davies, are “being shaped by a process that isn’t representative of the racial diversity in the audience it’s meant to be serving”. This aphorism, from Creative Access, a charity which tackles the under-representation of ethnic minorities within the industry, encapsulates the situation: “Media cannot reflect society, if society is not reflected in the media”.
On 2 August 2013, just under a month since the organisation was launched, Media Diversity UK’s first article makes it to the mainstream press with Joy Goh-Mah’s piece ‘Why are black female victims seemingly invisible?’ appearing in the Telegraph. This is a testament to the utility and validity of Writers of Colour as a necessary platform for media diversity in the UK. Twenty-four days later, Shane Thomas’ commentary on ‘Iggy Azalea, the #VMAs2013 and a Culture of Appropriation’ attracts 20 225 views. I find the organisation’s adaptive nature remarkable. Concurrently, Asumadu is asked to comment on how ethnic minorities are less likely to consume television and radio for the BBC. From this discussion, the #AllWhiteTV campaign is initiated in order to research and present findings of BAME representation on terrestrial television channels during primetime. Instead of talking about this issue, or relying on anecdotal asides, Media Diversity UK wants to broadcast the facts of the matter.
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Media Diversity UK represents writers wanting to be read and attracts readers who want to read. From stories to research, this approach will propel Asumadu’s organisation ever forward.
Rudy Katoch is a twenty-four year old writer. He delivered talks from 2010-12 on style and cognition at the Sorbonne, Zurich, Rome, and UCD. The application of which can be seen on @KAT0CH. Essays and criticism can be found at RudyKatoch