Practical strategies for increasing cultural diversity in broadcast media
Media is a mirror society holds up to itself.
Media records our lives and the world around us through news and factual content; it explores our hopes and fears, demons and desires, through creative content. When media represents the stories of only part of a society, it reflects to us a limited and inaccurate sense of ourselves.
Through this we unconsciously conclude that some people matter more or less than others; that some stories have value, whilst others are worthless; and we shape our society accordingly.
When some voices are not heard and some faces not seen, it is as though they don’t exist - first in the media, then in public policy, in community, in leadership.
Conversely, where the stories of all members of society are represented in the media, we receive a true picture of ourselves; thus we have the chance to reflect on, and act upon, the interests of all - rather than a privileged elite - in an informed and knowledgeable way.
Travelling on a Churchill Fellowship, over a 6 week period I visited broadcasters and organisations, learning about content and staff in the context of cultural and other diversity: Broadcasters: Sky Atlantic; BBC (TV and Radio); Channel 4; BBC; Swedish Broadcasting (TV/Education and Radio) Organisations: Creative Diversity Network; Think Bigger; BAFTA. In the following locations: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Hull, Stockholm, Malmö.
All organisations visited were acting to improve cultural and other diversity, to catch up to the diversity of the population. This was considered both a moral imperative, and a sound business strategy for reaching new audiences, to ensure revenue streams, relevance and survival.