Not all good, not all bad

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey sent shockwaves through the Royal Family and also the British press.

By James Evelegh

Not all good, not all bad

Did you watch the Harry and Meghan show on Monday night? I and 11m others in the UK did, along with millions more around the world.

The Sussexes let the British press have it with both barrels. The Society of Editors was quick to push back and put out a statement saying the UK press was not bigoted. They in turn got equally quick push back from elements of the British press who strongly disagreed. The fallout has continued all week.

Where to start unpicking this?

The British press, like the press in any free country, comes in all shapes and sizes and its huge output is hard to pigeonhole.

Blanket condemnation or denial misses the point. There is good and bad.

Of the thousands of journalists and commentators that write for British newspapers, some are racist and bigoted. Many are open minded, inclusive and forward looking.

Mainstream media is regulated; it has professional codes of practice that evolve over time and reflect the changing attitudes of society. Issues of diversity and inclusion are reported with more sensitivity than once was the case, but progress is not uniform. More needs to be done.

Publishers that have not already appointed diversity executives, like the FT did this week, should do so and publishing as a whole needs to work harder to make sure that its workforce better reflects wider society.

Once the composition of newsrooms more closely resembles the outside world, then there’ll be fewer places for bigots to hide.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Society of Editors, first under Bob Satchwell and latterly under Ian Murray, does a tremendous amount of good for our industry across a wide range of fronts and deserves our support and involvement.

(One other thing, have you voted for your favourite film, TV series and books about media? Our mediaONmedia survey is now live and we’ll be revealing the results in a few weeks’ time. Please do take a couple of minutes to give us your thoughts.)

This article featured in the 11 March edition of our weekly e-newsletter, InPubWeekly, which you can register to receive here.