Tag Archives: Chair

Thoughts from the Ethnic Media Summit: where do we go now?

This week’s Guardian Ethnic Media Summit, supported by Channel 4 and Spectrum Radio was the first of its kind. The event itself may be new, but the common theme of the day seemed to be, ‘weren’t we having these conversations 10 years ago?’

One of the speakers Claude Grunitzky talked about how the UK in 1996 had been a great place to be, to launch his magazine TRACE. Now, returning from the US – where he heads the TRUE Agency and the US edition of TRACE, and another publication TERRACE – he is not sure how much things have moved on. He went so far to say that the UK could be about 20 years behind in terms of ethnic representation in media. Ouch.

While many of the speakers focussed on the exciting times ahead for connecting with ethnic groups through social media (as we reported yesterday, Ofcom has found that the four main ethnic groups in the UK are using digital and online media more widely and diversely than the general population) there still seemed to be this pervading sense that some things hadn’t quite moved on.

News reporter Samira Ahmed, interviewed fellow Channel 4 colleague Aaqil Ahmed over his new appointment as the channel’s commissioning editor for religion and multicultural programming.

Her questions seemed to be weeding out whether this, too, might be a step backwards? After all, hadn’t the keynote speaker, Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights council, just said that terms like ‘multicultural’ were dead?

“The feeling was that we need a champion,” Aaqil Ahmed answered. “The individual commissioning editors still want to make multicultural content, but alongside that I have a dedicated role.”

His advice, however, to young people from ethnic groups is to make other kinds of films before they try and reflect specific religious or ethnic content. He also cited BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ as one of the best multicultural programmes on television.

You can listen to the interview in full here (23 mins):

[audio:http://www.journalism.co.uk/sounds/AAquilAhmed.mp3]

Various panel debates, with some big names in the ethnic (and mainstream) media world, discussed just exactly where we’re at, in terms of ethnic media: that’s on screen and off. Debates flitted between portrayal, participation and recruitment. It seems one feeds into the other.

Although actress and comedian Meera Syal and Observer news editor Kamal Ahmed didn’t show up, there were a host of other interesting people to listen to, among them: a panel of  inspiring young people who have been involved in Live magazine through the Livity project; Leslie Bunder the founder of the SomethingJewish network (pictured above, courtesy of Richard Cooke, Guardian News and Media); Parminder Vir OBE, the award winning film and television producer; Joseph Harker, assistant comment editor at the Guardian; and Jay Kandola, director of acquisitions at ITV (but also previously at BBC, Channel 4 and 5).

Blogger and Asians in Media editor, Sunny Hundal, managed the proceedings, with lots of his own questions thrown in. Guardian.co.uk editor-in-chief Emily Bell joked that Comment is Free would be very quiet with Sunny’s absence for a day. Trevor Phillips’ keynote speech (pictured below, courtesy of Richard Cooke, Guardian News and Media) made particularly interesting listening: you can read the Guardian’s coverage here.

So: will things have moved on by next year? The big questions raised were how to best monetise ethnic media, do terms like ‘multicultural’ have a role in ethnic media, and how do you penetrate mainstream media with its very narrow horizons? Some speakers said that there was no point just replacing white, socially well-off, Oxbridge males with Oxbridge socially well-off males from ethnic backgrounds – issues of class representation were raised too.

In the very last panel debate about digital reinvention, Milica Pesic, from the Media Diversity Institute raised a good point: what’s the point of a panel all agreeing with each other? Next time, she wants the culprits who consistently misrepresent ethnic groups in the media up on the stage too. Hear, hear, I say. Let’s get the editor who commissioned the story about Polish people hunting swans up on the stage with the editor of Polot.co.uk, Julita Kaczmarek, and really get the debate going.

Finally, a small point picked up from Norrie, a blogger from Leith FM, a Scottish community radio station. He was invited to the Guardian’s Ethnic Summit too, but found the pricing scheme (even at the cheapest rate it was £364 per person) a little bit off-putting and not quite as inclusive as you might expect from an event about, well, inclusion.

Journalism in Africa: New media laws force journalists to pay ‘registration fees’

Dennis Itumbi reports for Journalism.co.uk from Nairobi:

New media laws are threatening confrontation between Kenyan journalists and the government’s self-appointed media regulator, the Media Council.

Under the laws, which were passed despite protests by Kenyan journalists late last year, journalists in the country have to register for accreditation with the Media council.

Journalists must pay a compulsory sum of 2,000 Kenyan Shillings (£15.87) to register, regardless of whether they have registered in the past.

Those who fail to pay face imprisonment.

Foreign journalists are required to pay 10,000 Kenyan Shillings (£79.48) per month, while those working for less than three months will pay 5,000 Kenyan Shillings (£39.73) per month.

A letter from Kenya’s Media Council sent to all media owners said journalists would have to seek accreditation on an annual basis – a move seen as retrogressive by media groups.

Owners are also challenging the legislation, as it states that media houses must pay 20,000 Kenyan Shillings (£158.73) every month to fund ‘self-regulation’.

“[Y]ou have two months to comply or face the risk of deregistration,” it reads.

Eric Orina, secretary general of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), warned the move by the government would not be taken lightly. The organization would mobilize journalists to the streets to force the withdrawal of the fees demanded, he said.

“Self-regulation is the spirit of the laws and while we support accreditation of journalists we cannot allow the government through the Media Council to decide who practices journalism and who does not,” explained Orina, whose sentiments were echoed by Martin Gitau, chair of the Journalist Association of Kenya.

The Media Council has said it is merely implementing the existing Media Act 2007 and should not be blamed.

“We are a product of negotiation between the media and the government and since we have a legal mandate we have to implement it,” Wachira Waruru, chairman of the Media Council, maintained.

Elias Mbau, the journalist who helped organise demonstrations over another controversial clause in the act that would force journalists to disclose their sources, warned that the move to charge fees on a yearly basis would not be easily accepted.

“Nurses, engineers and lawyers are accepted into practice once; why should we renew accreditation as if it is membership to a club or a professional body?” said Mbau.

Jay Rosen @ Journalism Leaders Forum: UK newspapers two years behind US in audience interaction

New York University Journalism School professor Jay Rosen told the Journalism Leaders Forum @ UCLAN, that based on what he had heard at the forum UK regional newspapers seemed two years behind the US for developing editorial products that relied on large-scale user-interaction.

Responding to comments made by Trinity Mirror Regionals editorial director Neil Benson, that the next year would be about experimenting with new editorial projects that relied on great audience interaction and overcoming journalists resistance to allowing the audience to interact, Rosen told the forum that those barriers to audience interaction began breaking down in the US two years ago and that newsrooms there were now addressing how best to cross ‘the digital sea’.

[audio:http://www.journalism.co.uk/sounds/bensonrosen.mp3]

Listen here to Neil first explain his position (in response to a question from Chair Mike Ward about whether or not it was yet possible to see ‘scalable and durable’ models for editorial/user interaction products) then Jay comment on the developments in the UK (Note: both were phoning into the forum so the sound quality isn’t perfect).

Five libel

Football club chairman David Allen has started libel proceedings over comments made on the message boards of BBC radio’s Five Live show, the Press Gazette reports.

Allen, who is chair of Sheffield Wednesday, says defamatory messages have been left on the forum connected to the channel’s weekend football programme 606. He also alleges that ‘the BBC has become mixed up in the wrongdoing of some users’.

According to Press Gazette, he wants to sue two individuals, who go by the online usernames of ‘enchanted-fox’ and ‘Rocker’, for comments made about him in August.

Allen has asked London’s High Court to order the BBC to reveal the names, emails and postal addresses of the individuals concerned.

On a quick scan the comments have been removed, with entries on Sheffield Wednesday only going as far back as September.