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How To Survive Being A Black Face In A White Newsroom

For the last three months I have been interviewing black women journalists working within print, broadcast and radio newsrooms. This project coincided with two of the biggest news stories to impact ethnic minority communities in the last decade. They were of course, Covid-19, and the senseless murders of more black men and women in America.

The idea to start this project was drawn out of countless conversations I was having with black colleagues and friends who also worked within the media. As we shared our stories, the themes of racism, misogynoir and abuse were far too common. I conducted over 30 anonymous interviews. I had no idea I would be starting something so pertinent at the same time as the world came to life with pandemics and protests, and black people across all industries were reflecting on the racism in their working environments.

I’m not the only journalist to have turned the lens on our working culture. Niellah Arboine’s recent Radio 4 documentary reflects on the ethnic disparity in the industry and what this means for working black journalists, and Nadine White’s two-part investigation into institutional racism at the BBC has been shocking, but unfortunately not surprising.

But this problem starts before we even enter the newsroom, as many of my interviewees shared with me.

“I did my degree in sociology and my masters in journalism. If I am completely honest my journalism course wasn’t very diverse. There were less than a handful of black faces. We were few and far between.”