Sam Asumadu, Founder of Media Diversified, is sad to announce the closure of Media Diversified and reflects on six years of shaking the establishment media table.
I’m just a little bit heartbroken to announce that after six years, Media Diversified is closing.
We launched in 2013 as a scrappy upstart, nipping at the heels of the UK press, eager for them to fix up, but equally determined to build something of our own. Since then we have punched above our weight because we have had to on a shoestring budget.
Independent media can be a fraught endeavour, but all media is finding it hard to finance itself and ultimately be self sustaining. Grants are few and far between, especially when there’s not a single white face on your team. Even when you get a grant, they may to want to dilute what attracted them to you in the first place hence rubbing out anything that made you unique, fiery and ultimately influential.
“I remember the first time we were able to start paying our columnists regularly back in 2015, it wasn’t much but I felt overwhelming pride. I couldn’t pay myself but it felt like we had become a real contender in a way we hadn’t before”
Over the last few months, before, during and after our crowd funding ended we explored ways to keep Media Diversified viable, even at one point looking at going back to a voluntary team but ultimately I don’t think that’s wise, not at this stage where we need to grow to compete with the white noise, not regress.
I remember the first time we were able to start paying our columnists regularly back in 2015, it wasn’t much but felt overwhelming pride. I couldn’t pay myself but it felt like we had become a real contender in a way we hadn’t before.
Around 2015, I cultivated a visceral hatred for the word ‘diversity’. And to this day believe anyone selling you diversity is selling you a lie. “Diversity is dead” as Shane Thomas one of our former columnists and editor of MD’s 2016 Rio Olympics series put it.
‘Diversity isn’t the first thing that’s been misused due to a lack of understanding, and such imprecision leaves it open to manipulation by the most privileged, causing it to regress into an exercise in public relations.
Established institutions aren’t saying they want diversity. At best, they’re saying they won’t go out of their way to prevent it, as long as they don’t have to actually do anything. Often saying they value diversity means, “Look. We’ve got a BME person. Now stop bothering us about it, so we can focus on important things like making money.”
How many articles per month opine about the ‘lack of diversity” in ABC workplace, whilst being published in XYZ mainstream publication, in an all white newsroom? Bleak.
Liberation will never come at the hands of benevolent white gatekeepers. In fact they can actively try to prevent it, whilst offering you pennies on the pound and tweeting about civility. But I don’t believe the status quo is immutable. Small shifts, seismic in some areas have occurred in the past 6 years. More are on the horizon and I’m just sad we won’t be around to live tweet it.
One of my favourite things about Media Diversified over the years has been the hashtags. Not in chronological order or level of efficacy: #EthnoStateEconomist, #GuardianLegacy #DiversityisDead #AllWhiteFrontPages, my fave #SegregatedSpectator and last but not least (that I can remember anyway) #TheTrashies which holds a special place in my heart.
“But the best thing about Media Diversified for me has been spotting talent. So many talented writers have come our way over the years and I see them thriving or on the cusp of greatness and it does bring a glow to my soul for having Media Diversified even play a small part in their journeys”
2014 was the inaugural year for The Trashies awards and they are mine and a few others favourite part of the calendar year. They are the heart of Media Diversified and the most democratic of the numerous journalism circle jerk awards. By the people, for the people. Thus a bit of better news: the Trashies will keep going. Let mayhem commence! For if not the the trashies, who else would hold the media to account for the calendar year of racism, xenophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia? Certainly not the IPSO.
But the best thing about Media Diversified for me has been spotting talent. So many talented writers have come our way over the years and I see them thriving or on the cusp of greatness and it does bring a glow to my soul that Media Diversified played even a small part in their journeys. I hope the gatekeepers shudder in their wake and part as they walk by.
There are so many great articles to highlight, many of which were commissioned by Yasmin Gunaratnam for the academic space. Back in 2013 she commissioned Black People Don’t Go To Galleries, one of our first viral articles. It was when the Museums Association got in touch asking if they could republish a shorter version on their site that I knew that MD had the potential to be anything it wanted to be. (If only it could become sustainable)
There’s lots of thanks to give; the editors who gave their time and expertise to new writers, to our supporters and subscribers and the numerous writers around the world. Thus I think the biggest gift we could ever give is our promise to keep the site up for as long as it is possible. It’s an invaluable archive. Go browse.
Sam Asumadu, founder of Media Diversified