By Grace Pritchard
A panel of experts working in the media today agreed that the mix of people in the industry IS improving – but there is still a long way to go.
The diversity panel at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week included Margaret Emsley, head of ITV News Yorkshire; Sam Fray, who is programme manager for the Beyond Brontes scheme at Screen Yorkshire; Edi Smockum from ThinkBIGGER!; and Jake Jones, a Leeds Trinity graduate now working at Sunset and Vine Productions.
The panel focused their discussion on the barriers preventing people from breaking into the industry – whether that be race, disability, gender or social mobility issues.
The panellists all emphasised the importance of media companies recruiting on the basis of talent alone, in order to reflect the full range of society.
Margaret Emsley has been the head of ITV News Yorkshire since 2011 – but she touched on the setbacks she has faced throughout her career, including having editors tell her “not to bother, as it’s far too competitive.”
Speaking to Yorkshire Voice after the talk, Margaret said: “I still find it difficult to assert authority as a woman.
“As a woman in news, you do just have to work harder.”
Gender inequality is not only an issue in terms of those working in media but also how women are represented on screen.
Margaret added: “I ask myself the question every day how many leaders are we displaying that are female and how many experts are female.
“We need to be offering women role models.
“Women want to consume media from those who look, and sound like them.”
Margaret did not shy away from admitting the shortcomings ITV has in increasing equality, addressing that more can be done by ITV to adequately represent the BAME community.
“There are communities that we still can’t get into to tell their stories, especially in BAME communities; these people need to see themselves on screen before they’ll let us in to show the stories they have.
“This is a priority for us moving forward.”
Margaret sees the upcoming election as the perfect opportunity for ITV to show that they want to offer a platform to those in underserved communities.
Additional video material by Zoe Peck (interview with Sam Frey)