The corporate media, as well as most of its independent counterparts, have ignored a report into the industry. It shows that it has become even more dominated by the richest people. In short, amid the ongoing class war in society, the media is enacting its own version – by shutting its doors on the poorest people. But at The Canary, we’re doing something about it.
Media: it’s an issue of class
The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) publishes a yearly report on diversity in journalism. Its 2022 report found that, broadly, the industry is like the rest of the working population in terms of the number of people from protected groups and minorities in it. Not that this is good enough. Because the majority of journalists are still white. And the proportion of editors who are white is above the rest of the working population.
But the major discrepancy in the figures is class.
The NCTJ’s research uses the government’s Labour Force Survey as its basis. It divides workers up according to the various occupational groups of their parents. These are (from highest to lowest):
- Managers, directors and senior officials.
- Professional occupations.
- Associate professional and technical.
- Administrative and secretarial.
- Skilled trades.
- Caring, leisure and other service.
- Sales and customer service.
- Process, plant and machine operatives.
- Elementary occupations.
The NCTJ report states that this grading system is:
one of the key determinants of social class.
Journalism: a playground of the rich
- 80% of journalists had a parent in “one of the three highest occupational groups”. This is compared to 42% of all other workers. 80% is a 6% increase on last year.
- 65% were from the top two highest groups.
- 2% had a parent in the lowest two occupational groups. This is compared to 21% of all other workers. 2% is a fall of 25% on last year.
- There are no working editors in the UK from the three lowest occupational groups.
This means that the number of journalists from a poor background is over 90% lower than that of the rest of the working population. Moreover, the NCTJ research doesn’t even include journalists whose parents were reliant on social security – possibly because there aren’t any journalists like that.
Then, you also have the NCTJ findings on education. These show that:
- 89% of journalists hold a degree, compared to 49% of the working population.
- 6% of journalists have low-level or no qualifications, compared to 33% of the working population.
Essentially, the media remains a playground filled with the kids of rich and powerful people. This report is important because that lack of diversity in media directly affects all of us.
Skewing the narrative
Take the framing by the corporate and independent media of the so-called ‘cost of living crisis’. It’s one which has seen/will see:
- 80% of the poorest people being in fuel poverty come October.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stripping 400,000 people of their social security altogether.
- The DWP is also cutting £10bn from social security in real terms.
- Food prices rising at their fastest rate for 11 years.
- 7.3 million people including 2.6 million children living in food insecurity.
- Nearly half of all Universal Credit claimants being food insecure.
But as The Canary previously wrote, these narratives around:
the wilful persecution of the poorest people as a ‘cost of living crisis’ helps absolve the government and corporations of any responsibility. It downplays the fact that they know their policies and inaction are hitting the poorest the hardest. So, framing forced destitution as “Tory incompetence”… means the class war we’re in the midst of becomes an almost benign entity about which nothing can be done.
That’s why The Canary has been calling the cost of living crisis a class war. It’s the richest enacting war on the poorest.
Don’t mention the class war
But the media won’t call this class war. Firstly, if they did it would affect their careers: being too honest doesn’t wash in journalism. More importantly, they probably don’t even consider this. Because what the NCTJ exposed is that the majority of journalists are financially and socially secure. Their positions protect them from the worst aspects of government policy. And given their family backgrounds, they’ve probably never experienced poverty or deprivation in their lives.
All of this is why The Canary launched Amplify. It’s a mentoring and training programme for people interested in journalism. It’s exclusively for the communities the system has marginalised – be it because of:
However, all our participants have one thing in common: class.
Time to Amplify
We currently have 25 participants on the course. The majority of them are from the poorest social grade (E). One of the main requirements for entry into Amplify is that participants are from the poorest backgrounds. This is partly because the majority of our own journalists are working class – we know how hard it is to get into the industry.
The Canary isn’t afraid to call a class war a class war. And as a media organisation, we’re doing something about it – hence Amplify. Sadly, the same can’t be said for our peers in the corporate media. They’re clearly quite happy in their ivory towers – looking down as the rest of us fight a class war that has raged for decades.
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The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
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