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Diversity in the UK’s media industry under the spotlight

8 December 2020

Reprezentology journal cover

Diversity and the UK’s media industry will be the subject of a new journal.

‘Reprezentology - the Journal for Media and Diversity’, is a collaboration between Cardiff University and Birmingham City University and examines how the media represents the population it serves. It is the first publication of its kind to bring together academia and media practitioners for a mix of research and written articles, which will tackle subjects spanning all protected characteristics including race, gender, sexuality, class and disability, as well as the intersections between them.

The first edition features articles from leading figures in the fight for better representation, including Professor David Olusoga, Dr Sir Lenny Henry, Charlene White and the late Stuart Hall - renowned as one of the founding figures of British Cultural Studies.

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah, based at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture, said: “I'm deeply proud of what we've achieved in launching this journal, whose aim is to bring greater focus on diversity and inclusion. I'm equally happy about the co-creative spirit in which two universities: Cardiff and Birmingham City University and its Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media and Diversity have approached this challenge. My thanks to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, Professor Stuart Allan, Thomas Hay and Michelle Alexis, and Barry Diamond from Cardiff's side, and Professor Diane Kemp and Professor Marcus Ryder and the editorial team.”

Reprezentology was founded following talks between academics at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture and Birmingham City University’s Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.

Articles featured in the first edition include:

  • Sir Lenny Henry and Professor David Olusoga discussing media diversity, institutional memory and racism in the UK television industry;
  • Charlene White on bringing together current affairs and children's broadcasting for her show IRL with Team Charlene;
  • Dr Peter Block and Emma Butt outlining their research on the systemic lack of diversity in broadcast regulation and post-production sound teams;
  • Dr David Dunkley Gyimah writes about the power of archive.

Other articles focus on freelancing, political journalism, Professor Stuart Hall’s republished television essay on race on the BBC, work cultural depictions of disability and women's initiatives at the Financial Times. There will also be book reviews and media recommendations from Marverine Duffy.

The journal is edited by K Biswas, a critic who has written for a number of publications including the New York Times, New Statesman, The Nation, and the Times Literary Supplement. He is also the founder of The Race Beat, a new network for journalists of colour working in the UK.

K Biswas said: “It is an honour to edit the first edition of this vital publication, which includes contributions from media heavyweights and brings to light important facts and  experiences around diversity in the UK.

“We want Reprezentology to feel different to other publications, straddling the line between the academy and those at the heart of the British media.”

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University, said: “As is the case in many areas of society, the mainstream media often inadequately represent the diversity of the society they purport to reflect.

“Power structures, financial models and appointments to influential management and editorial positions all can and do militate against a representative media industry. Reprezentology aims to do something about that.

“This is a ground-breaking project that will celebrate and enrich the cultural industry as a whole, and will give a broader-based platform to a wider range of voices and views than we have seen up to now. In this way Reprezentology addresses a problem that affects not only the media, but all of us, at a time when change is urgently needed.”

Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “Birmingham City University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we are delighted to be working with our wonderful Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry, and our friends at Cardiff University in launching Reprezentology. This year has taught us a lot, not least that achieving and celebrating racial equality is long overdue.

“Written in plain language, and free to download, we want to open up this conversation to those who are best placed to inform real change. Universities are a vehicle to enable transformation, and as such, it is our duty and our passion to actively promote social progress through learning, research, innovation and collaboration.”

Published twice a year, the journal will be available to view here:

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