Future newsroom to “reflect”diversity of population make-up

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A daily newspaper in one of Britain’s most diverse cities is offering an opportunity for reporters from ethnic minority backgrounds to fill more of its current vacancies

The Birmingham Mail and its Birmingham Live sister website have confirmed they will be adopting the policy when recruiting new journalists in a bid to make their newsroom more representative of the communities they serve.

It means 50 per cent of those shortlisted for such roles will come from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The Mail’s initiative was announced in a Twitter post by editor Marc Reeves, who said:“I’ve been posting a lot about our reporter vacancies at Birmingham Live, and thought it worth mentioning that each shortlist will comprise 50 per cent BAME candidates.”

He told media website Hold The Front Page “I doubt there’s an editor in the regions – or the nationals for that matter – who can say with hand on heart that the composition of their newsroom is as diverse as they would want it to be. In Birmingham, this is even more acute. We serve the most diverse city in the UK, yet our newsroom does not fully reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. We’ve known this for a long time, and I know journalism colleges are working hard on their own recruitment policies, but we have to take action on this directly.

“With the expansion of Birmingham Live and the creation of four new reporting roles, we have an opportunity to take control of the process and to try to affect something of a step change. We will ensure that at least 50 per cent of the candidates we shortlist for interview have black or minority ethnic backgrounds.”

Marc added: “Furthermore, we are also working with a Reach plc project to create opportunities for journalism apprentices, and we want to fill two of the four new roles in this way. That’s the really exciting bit – to work with candidates as young as 18 who have grown up in the heart of our communities and help them get on the first rung on the journalism ladder.”

His announcement comes after Mike Norton, editor of the Mail’s Reach plc sister daily the Bristol Post, admitted last year that his newspaper has “too few” ethnic minority journalists on its staff. Mike said neither black writers or black communities were “well represented” on the Post, adding that the paper had contributed to a “cultural divide” in Bristol in the past.