Local UK Press and its Lack of Interest in Minorities

Bristol City Council has  9000 employees (excluding teachers) of which 93% are white. Clearly the 7% percentage of ethnic minority employees doesn’t match the percentage of ethnic minorities living in Bristol.


the Evening Post

By Iqbal Tamimi

All subscribers of the Evening Post and those who are interested in their local news like my humble self, received an email about the ‘new look’ of the Bristol based Evening Post, along with a request to offer our feedback regarding how we see the new changes.

My first reaction was optimism. I thought that the change must have been to do with its content, maybe a new policy ensuring inclusion that would make the opinions and concerns of the Bristolians addressed equally. But unfortunately the good news about the new look was only about a cosmetic ‘new look’. More like giving a face lift to someone whose internal organs are still the same old tired ones. The change I found was about its logo and colour coding the sections. In short, women are still underrepresented as journalists and as subjects, other than being victims of violence and accidents or sources of entertainment, the concerns of the minorities are still hardly addressed and the same old visual messages about who are the local people the newspaper is addressing are still recycled.

The upper third of the first  page of the newspaper that advertised ‘Seven pages of jobs sections’ was accompanied by a photo of three white young people in their twenties, all seems healthy with a wide smile of the kind used for toothpaste advertising. This was a distressing message that seems to require an immediate surgical intervention. Because it brought back the same old questions brought by the “Is it so hard to recruit from black and ethnic minorities?” debated during a seminar held last year, on the 30th June 2010 by the University of the West of England, on recruiting black and ethnic minority journalists, which was attended briefly by Mike Norton, editor of the Bristol Evening Post himself who did not offer us any satisfying answers or even promised to look into some of the questions we put forward.

The message circulated by the newspaper, or the image on the first page was exactly what we have discussed during that event. This kind of visual sedating message about employment and training opportunities that gave me personally the impression that this newspaper is not addressing me, my son or any of the other 12% of the Bristolians of black and ethnic minorities, let alone the over 40 years of age who are standing in the long queue of  unemployed.

Should I ignore discussing the needs of those who are struggling to find a job because they are deemed expired because they are over 45, and just concentrate on those of the same age group of the young people who appeared on the Bristol Evening Post’s add, but they enjoy a natural tan. I would remind the Evening Post that according to a 2007 fact sheet report over 20% of the emerging workforce in primary and secondary school education in Bristol, are from an ethnic minority background, besides the fact that ethnic minority students make 10.6% of the University of the West of England and 10.0% of University of Bristol. I’m sure these figures have increased in the past five years.

“Is it so hard to recruit from black and ethnic minorities?” seminar held on  30th June 2010 by the University of the West of England

Photography by Iqbal Tamimi

Bristol City Council, which is another story in itself, has already 9000 employees (excluding teachers) of which 93% are white. Clearly the 7% percentage of ethnic minority employees doesn’t match the percentage of ethnic minorities living in Bristol.

Since I am a journalist, I was interested in tracking all the media and PR related jobs offered by Bristol City Council on its website for the past three years. The shocking finding is, all the newly created jobs were offered internally. In another words, only those who are already working at the Bristol City Council can apply for such jobs. Obviously when I hear over and over again about newly created jobs, I think to myself, this is not really creating jobs, it’s only creating an illusion, because what are on offer are only new titles for people who are already employed, and there is a big difference between creating new jobs for non working people and creating new titles for those who are already employed.

The fact remains that our local media is not offering a large percentage of the local people the services they are hoping for, and the local authorities who have their own publications and media staff are trying hard to project a fake flourishing positive image of the work market. This is why a considerable percentage of unemployed journalists nowadays trust individual online sources of news more than trusting local media projects or the media sources of the local authorities.

Since the newspapers complain that they suffer a drop of circulation and a drop in advertising revenues, they might need to start thinking about the reasons. They might even be shocked to find out that some of those who used to buy the paper bought it because it has something to offer them but now it doesn’t, needless to say that the Evening Post does not need a new-look, it needs serious surgical intervention and maybe some organ implants.


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