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UK media executive resigns after Black journalists blast group for being ‘in denial’ about racism

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Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, Wednesday he said he would leave office so the organization could “rebuild its reputation.”
He responded to Prince Harry ‘s statements during a interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he said that racism had played a role in the way the British press covered his wife, Meghan, and that tabloid coverage was a major factor in the couple’s decision to leave the country.
In a letter published online, journalists of color, including The Guardian and Condé Nast, urged the Society of Publishers to address fanaticism and racism in UK media coverage, rather than pretending it does not exist.

Murray’s insistence that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had provided no “supporting evidence” to support racist coverage claims showed a “deliberate ignorance” of Meghan’s discriminatory treatment by the British press, as well. like other people who do not identify as White, according to the letter.

“We, the signed journalists of color, who work in British media organizations, regret and reject the statement issued by the Society of Editors, denying the existence of racism and intolerance in the British press,” wrote the journalists.

“The general refusal to accept there is intolerance in the British press is laughable, it hurts journalists of color and shows a denied institution and industry,” they added.

The letter cited a number of evidences to support his claims, including one from 2016 report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, which found that hate speech among traditional UK media, particularly newspapers, “remains a serious problem” and fuels prejudice.
Convincing evidence can also be found in the headlines of the major tabloids. One Mail online the title stated in 2016 that Meghan was leaving ((almost) directly from Compton ”. At the same time, The daily star posted a headline asking if Harry “would marry the gangster royalty?”

On Wednesday, before Murray resigned, the Society of Editors issued what it called a “clarification.”

“Our statement about Meghan and Harry … did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion. We will reflect on the reaction to our statement and work to be a part of it. of the solution, ”the body, which runs the prestigious annual Press Awards, said in a statement.

In another statement, Murray acknowledged that the organization’s initial statements had been “heavily criticized.”

“While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept that it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and that it has caused clear unrest,” he add.

One of the reasons Meghan suffered racist coverage in the UK: the media is not diverse
But the damage has already been done. ITV news anchor Charlene White Wednesday he stopped being a presenter of the Press Awards. In a letter first reported by HuffPost UK, White told the Society of Editors that he should “look elsewhere” for a host.

“Perhaps someone whose opinions match yours: that the British press is the only institution in the whole country that has a perfect track record in terms of careers,” he added.

The editors of The Guardian and Financial Times have also disputed the Society of Editors’ original statement.

“There is work to be done in all sectors of the UK to call for and challenge racism,” FT editor Roula Khalaf said in a statement. “The media has a critical role to play and publishers need to ensure that our newsrooms and coverage reflect the societies in which we live,” he added.

“All institutions in the UK are currently studying their own position on vital issues of race and the treatment of people of color. As I said before, the media needs to do the same. They need to be much more representative and more self-aware, “added Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian.

Reach Plc, which publishes The Mirror, the Express and The Daily Star, declined to comment on the Society of Editors’ statement. CNN Business has contacted the Daily Mail and The Sun editor, News UK, to comment. Harry and Meghan said last April that they would no longer collaborate with the main tabloids and that they had sued some newspapers.

Combat the lack of diversity

The British press remains overwhelmingly white compared to the ethnic and racial composition of the UK.

A 2016 report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that only 6% of journalists in UK newsrooms do not identify as white, compared to around 13% of the general population. The same study found that while black Britons make up 3% of the population, they make up only 0.2% of journalists.

And according to a report last July by the Reuters Institute, none of the top ten British print, digital or broadcast media has any black editor in mind.

“The Society of Publishers should have used Sussex’s comments to initiate an open and constructive debate on how best to prevent racist coverage in the future, even by resolving the lack of representation in the media. United Kingdom, particularly at a higher level “. said letter from journalists of color.

“At a time when many industries and companies are engaged in considering race after the Black Lives Matter protests, we believe it would be a better use of the Society of Editors’ time to reflect on the lack of diversity.” added.

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