The creator of The Editor’s Inbox podcast wanted to learn more about how to be an editor. Here he reflects on his conversations from series two.
The podcast series came about because I wanted to hear and learn more from the editors working in today’s media landscape.
After a successful season one, I spoke to a second group of editors including The Week Junior’s Anna Bassi, Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford, Daily Express’ Gary Jones, TIME for Kids’ Andrea Delbanco and PA Media’s Peter Clifton.
Touching on subjects such as engaging young news readers and climate change, season two gave me an insight into one of the key challenges faced by many industries today including the world of journalism – greater diversity.
Since it began, The Editor’s Inbox has made time to ask each of its editors how they are making a difference in their own newsrooms to improve representation and equality throughout newsrooms and their wider businesses.
And while there is clearly so much work still to be done – all my interviewees were very candid about this – it is definitely at the top of the agenda.
Katie French, editor of the Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser outlined that she could see why those who are not within the current newsroom demographic feel excluded from the profession.
“It’s important that anyone in a position of leading a recruitment process, it is really important that we do as much as we can to make our newsrooms inclusive,” she stated, adding that her own newsroom was one of the most diverse she had ever worked in and outlined her experience as a mentor for the Journalism and Diversity Fund too.
French also cited outreach programmes taking place at The Mirror and The Sun but added that “it’s going to take more than that. It’s also about making sure that the newsroom itself is an inclusive and welcoming space and making sure the language and conversations happening on a day-to-day basis make it inclusive too”.
The Daily Express’ Gary Jones asserted that he wants “a workforce ideally that represents all manner of minorities and social classes”. He discussed Reach’s new head of diversity and inclusion hire, his passion to create an environment that represents the nation, and the power mentoring young journalists can have on their careers.
“It’s incredibly important to embrace diversity… it just makes you a better publication,” states Dominic Ponsford, editor in chief of Press Gazette who discussed the issues around gender that the publication had covered and the representation of women in media.
“It’s very difficult to do that if you don’t have any women on the team,” he offers as an example of why the make-up of newsrooms must widen. “How can you understand what those readers are bothered about if you don’t have females writing for you?”
PA Media boss Peter Clifton said that it was “the biggest single challenge of our newsroom and probably many others,” when asked about the issue.
“You could very easily if you have replacements coming up, you could go to one of the training colleges and find postgraduates and they would all be fantastic, willing and able but they would most often be from the same pod… then when you look at the newsroom as a whole you will think ‘how are we fit to provide a good strong range of content for the range of people who are consuming the content our customers want?”
“It takes time. You can’t just change everything at the drop of a hat,” he continued and outlined his offer to PA customers that they would take on apprentices who could ask for work experience within his team once they have been trained but to consider the make-up of recruits in the future.
This is not an issue exclusive to the UK and in the US Andrea Delbanco, editor-in-chief of Time For Kids also spoke about why it was important that the children who read her publication felt represented by its outlook and content also.
“In classroom settings, you have a wide range of people within one classroom and there is no expectation for who the reader is, it’s varied. And we have also wanted kids to be inspired by what their future can hold by seeing it. For 25 years that has been a huge focus,” she outlines the publication’s vision. “In the last year or so we have made it a key priority. My team is very passionate about being intentional and increasing the representation of the voices and the stories that we are choosing and that has pushed us into territories that are new for us as a brand”.
Greater diversity allows the news industry to reflect its diverse readership and better serve the communities we all live in. Journalism should by its nature involve all people of race and gender as news should not discriminate.
With diversity firmly at the top of the agenda for editors, there is much more work to be done here and action to be taken, watch this space.
The Editor’s Inbox podcast episodes are available now.