Last night, Media Diversified was proud to join with the London Press Club and ESI Media to co-host the launch of the new Media Diversified Experts Directory, a searchable and managed database of BAME experts and professionals from a variety of fields, all of whom have experience in media settings.
The launch was marked with a drinks reception at Northcliffe House, home not only to ESI Media’s London Live, Evening Standard and Independent titles but also to dmg media’s Mail and Metro titles.
Doug Wills, managing editor of the Independent, Independent on Sunday and the Evening Standard introduced the evening, followed by Media Diversified’s founder Samantha Asumadu:
Pat Younge, founder and director of corporate consultancy WeCreate Associates and former chief creative officer at the BBC, provided the keynote address. Prior to joining the BBC Younge, who has worked in all areas of media for over two decades, was president and general manager of Travel Channel Media in the US.
You can watch his speech here:
Or read his speech below:
Samantha, thank you for your invitation to speak tonight, at the launch of the Media Diversified Directory.
And can I start by thanking the London Press Club for providing such a fantastic setting and the Evening Standard for their support for this important launch.
Now why does this Directory matter? Well for those who don’t know my background, let me outline it briefly and make the connection. I’ve spent over twenty-five years working in media, starting as a freelance newspaper journalist in 1989. I’ve worked for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, worked in documentaries, news, current affairs and sport. I ran an American cable network, creating shows like ABNR and M v F, and then ran BBC in-house production, 3000 programme makers making some of Britain’s biggest shows from Top Gear to EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing to Luther, Mrs Browns Boys to Doctor Who. I left that job in early 2014 to start my own consultancy, and recently launched a new content production company, Sugar Films.
What connects tonight’s event with my 20-year career is that my first job in 1991 was a researcher position at LWT. I’d been employed to work on a film marking the 10th anniversary of the first Brixton riot of 1981, and LWT had no black people on the team that they could send to Brixton to persuade local people to participate in the programme.
Now, 20 years plus on, much else in the world has changed….. and yet we are still struggling to get black and Asian voices heard. That’s why this directory is so important.
Now I have been in enough news organisations and newsrooms to know that the edicts have come out from on high imploring people to do better when it comes to improving diversity. So why no change? Is it because all journalists and programme makers are secretly members of UKIP? Not in my experience.
As a working journalist I know enough journalists and programme makers to know that the reasons it hasn’t happened are actually more simple than that.
You spend your career making contacts, people whose opinions you value and who you can trust to deliver – especially when deadlines are tight or issues are complex. You also learn to spot the experts on other outlets and in other papers, especially those who can also deliver what’s necessary within these constraints. …. and so, when you are called into action you go to those that you know, and then to those that you know who know what to do. It’s not hard to see how that becomes a self selecting group…..nor is it hard to see how it becomes a self replicating system, unless you intervene.
This directory is one such intervention. Its goal is to make it easy for you to find and book a broader range of talent.
One reason the directory exists is that it didn’t wait for the traditional British media establishment to bring it into being, but instead Samantha and her team took the idea out to the audience, to the public via Kickstarter….. and guess what, the crowd provided the money to make the directory happen – which suggests to me that the public at large already believe improving diversity is a bloody good idea.
And it is a bloody good idea. First, diversity of opinion, bringing more and new voices into public discourse can only be a good thing.
Secondly, if you don’t believe in the social good or social services approach to this look at it the other way, in terms of the bottom line. in terms of pounds, shilling and pence…….Britain is changing:
The 2011 Census recorded that almost a quarter of the population of England and Wales were over 60. Now whilst ethnic minorities account for 14% of the total population they account for just 5% of the over 60’s.
Furthermore, 40% of the UK population is in the 30 to 60 age group, but more than half of the population for the major ethnic minority groups are under the age of 30.
Put another way. 65% of the UK population is over 30, but over 50% of the ethnic minority communities are under thirty.
These are the populations which are growing. They are not just the audiences of today but also the audiences of tomorrow. So, if you’re not motivated to address this issue through altruism then do it for the money.
I don’t care. We don’t care, as long as you do it….and the directory is here to make it easier for you.
So finally, just a few pointers on using the directory:
First, the Directory has an impressive range of expert voices, and because of the links to the Writers of Colour network the directory is expanding all the time. And if your organisation has unique needs then they are also able to create bespoke solutions.
Second, these people are experts in their professional field, so you can use them even in stories which don’t include black and Asian people.
Third, the opinions they express are just that, their opinions based on their professional knowledge and expertise. They are not, repeat not, community leaders speaking on behalf of all black or Asian people. No, they are just themselves.
Fourth, on occasion, an expert from the directory will under-perform. It happens now with your existing experts, and so it’s bound to happen. This will be disappointing, but treat it for what it is, individual failure.
As media outlets slowly broaden the range of voices they give a platform. This directory will help change the perception of what an expert looks and sounds like.
And if you feel like you’re fishing in an ever more stagnant pool of experts and commentators, the Media Diversified Directory is just what you’re looking for.
Media Diversified is a young organisation that wants to work WITH media outlets to make them better. They are driven, flexible and creative about how this happens and I hope my colleagues in the media see this as an opportunity for dynamic and exciting collaboration.
In closing I would say if you are passionate about journalism that’s challenging and engaged, and journalism that looks, sounds and feels like the world we live in today, then please sign up to the Media Diversified Experts Directory and play your part in re-invigorating the media landscape.
More photos of the event:
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