Yes, you can blame the messenger

Yvonne Roberts says the trivia-obsessed
British media is incapable of reporting on social care issues

Mystified as to why social care issues fail so
often to get the coverage they deserve in the national press?
Concerns such as support for adults with autism; care of disabled
people from ethnic minorities; the imprisonment of children in
secure units who have committed no offence. Why are such topics
mostly relegated to specialist supplements and make the main news
pages of our tabloid and broadsheet newspapers only when a major
scandal occurs?

of the answer came last week in the form of findings from a survey
conducted on behalf of the Journalism Training Forum, chaired by
Ian Hargreaves, director of the Centre for Journalism Studies at
Cardiff University. It tells us that there are 70,000 journalists
in the UK – 60,000 in publishing and the remainder in television.
Tellingly, journalists are mostly young, white, middle class,
without children and living in the South East. All facts which are
bound to influence the way in which the daily news agenda is drawn

Damningly, only 4 per cent of
journalists come from ethnic minorities while only 3 per cent of
entrants have parents who are in semi-skilled or unskilled jobs.
Hargreaves warns: “Journalism is in danger of drifting in the
direction of unintended apartheid. Without strong measures to
address recruitment and career development of people from minority
communities, British journalism has no chance of representing the
communities it seeks to serve.”

also interesting is the narrowness of the survey’s vision in
defining what constitutes “a community”. Why not also measure the
proportion of disabled journalists?

Hargreaves argues that the
preponderance of middle class recruits is the result of the failure
of the British education system. He argues for more effective
mechanisms of recruitment and better targeted financial support
systems to widen the pool.

any journalist impassioned by the issues of, say, poverty, social
exclusion, and childhood abuse will tell a similar story. Sooner or
later, a white, middle class, young commissioning editor will deem
the topic “unsexy” or “depressing”. As if the only task of the
press is to entertain and distract, not analyse and examine and
expose what the establishment is doing, or failing to do, on our

course, there are some middle class members of the media who have a
broader vision but too often they are buried in the slag heap of
celebrity trivia which frequently passes for journalism

all about it? Not in the British media, you won’t.

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