Letter in response to Society of Editors

Haroon Siddique
9 min readMar 9, 2021


We, the undersigned journalists of colour, working in UK media organisations, deplore and reject the statement issued by the Society of Editors, denying the existence of racism and bigotry in the UK press in its response to Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

While Meghan’s comments shone a light on her own personal experiences of discriminatory treatment, they reflect the depressingly familiar reality of how people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are portrayed by the UK press on a daily basis.

The Society of Editors’ claim that the Sussexes’ views were made without “supporting evidence” shows a wilful ignorance of not just the discriminatory treatment of Meghan — some of which was highlighted during the interview — but that of other people from an ethnic minority background.

For instance, in 2016, the UN refugee agency commissioned research from Cardiff University which showed that British press coverage was “uniquely aggressive in its campaigns against refugees and migrants”.

Also in 2016, two English newspapers were accused of ‘fuelling prejudice’ in a report on rising racist violence and hate speech in the UK in a study by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

Research from the MCB in 2018 showed that most coverage of Muslims in British news outlets has a negative slant, concluding that news stories in the mainstream media are contributing to Islamophobia. There have been numerous examples of complaints upheld against newspapers for inaccurate reporting against Muslims, often including false accusations of extremism.

These are just three examples, but there is plenty more evidence if the Society of Editors had chosen to assess the facts rather than issuing a knee-jerk response.

At a time when many industries and companies are engaged in a reckoning with race in the wake of 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, particularly at senior levels within the UK media, which contributes to the negative narratives in the UK media, which have been highlighted.

A 2016 study by City university reported that just 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim, compared with almost 5% of the UK population, and only 0.2% are black, compared with 3% of the UK population. The National Council for the Training of Journalists says 94% of journalists are white, compared with 86% of the population of England and Wales.

Research by Women in Journalism based on a random week last year found that of 111 voices who were quoted on the front pages of British newspapers in a week, just one belonged to a black person. Of the 174 bylines on the stories featured that week, not a single one was black, and only six were written by reporters from other ethnic minorities.

The Society of Editors has a poor record on diversity in relation to its awards — often nominating the same people year after year and producing many all male, all white shortlists. Even in this year of Black Lives Matter and the disproportionate impact of Covid it has not nominated a single non-white person in either of its columnist of the year shortlists. Additionally, the shortlist for its “Driving Diversity” award includes some of the organisations which are the worst offenders when it comes to reporting on people from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background.

The Society of Editors should have used the comments by the Sussexes to start an open and constructive discussion about the best way to prevent racist coverage in future, including through addressing lack of representation in the UK media, particularly at a senior level. The blanket refusal to accept there is any bigotry in the British press is laughable, does a disservice to journalists of colour and shows an institution and an industry in denial.

1.Kieran Yates, Freelance

2. Sirin Kale, Journalist

3. Tayyab Amin, Writer

4. Tania Branigan, Journalist, The Guardian

5. Nosheen Iqbal, Reporter, The Observer

6. Bolu Babalola Writer, Freelance

7. Esther Opoku Gyeni, Podcast producer, The Guardian

8.Aina J. Khan, Journalist, Freelance

9. Mona Chalabi, Data Editor, The Guardian US

10.Angela Foster, Assistant news editor, The Guardian

11.Hannah J Davies, Deputy TV editor, The Guardian

12. Chanté Joseph, Writer, Freelance

13.Tobi Thomas, Journalist, The Guardian

14. Edna Mohamed, Journalist

15. Dr Clive Nwonka, Academic, University of York

16. Hrsh Patel, Media Tech Manager, Guardian News and Media

17. Nina Lakhani, Reporter, The Guardian

18.Emmanuel Akinwotu, Journalist, The Guardian

19. Micha Frazer-Carroll, Writer, Freelance

20. Lou Mensah, Independent Broadcaster

21. Vikram Dodd, Police and crime correspondent, The Guardian

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23.Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Journalist, Gal-Dem

24. Ash Sarkar, Contributing Editor, Novara Media

25. Kuba Shand-Baptiste, Society and arts editor, The Conversation

26. Iqra Choudhry, Writer, Freelance

27. Shahed Ezaydi, Editor, Aurelia Magazine

28. Damien Gayle, Reporter, The Guardian

29. Amana Fontanella-Khan, Editor, opinion, The Guardian US

30. Christine Ochefu, Journalist/writer/editor, Freelance

31. Oliver Laughland, Journalist, The Guardian

32. Iman Amrani, Journalist, The Guardian

33. Moya Lothian-McLean, Editor, Gal-Dem

34.Minreet Kaur, Journalist, Freelance

35. Homa Khaleeli , Journalist, The Guardian

36. Loujane Alasi, Media Communications Officer

37. Marverine Cole, Journalist & Broadcaster, Freelance

38. Maya Goodfellow, Author, Freelance

39. Lanre Bakare, Journalist, The Guardian

40. Nick Dastoor, Journalist, The Guardian

41. Sarah Stewart, Journalist

42. Bim Adewunmi, Journalist, Freelance

43. Nesrine Malik, Columnist, The Guardian

44. Serena Barker-Singh Journalist, Channel 4 News

45. Shaista Aziz, Journalist, Freelance

46. Ellie Abraham Journalist, Freelance

47. Aditya Chakrabortty, Journalist, The Guardian

48. Nels Abbey, Writer, Black Writers’ Guild

49. Hugh Muir, Journalist, The Guardian

50. Ashley Clark, Journalist, Freelance

51. Halima Ali, Subeditor, Guardian News and Media

52. Yomi Adegoke, Journalist, Freelance

53. K Biswas, Critic & editor, Founder of the Race Beat; Editor of Representology — The Journal of Media & Diversity

54. Enjoli Liston, Editor, The Guardian, US

55. Jessica Noah Morgan, Journalist and editor, Refinery29 UK & Unbothered UK

56. Josh Toussaint-Strauss, Video producer, The Guardian

57. Marvyn Harrison, Executive Editor, Dope Black Thought

58., Aaron Akinyemi, Journalist

59. Nadia Khomami, Editor, The Guardian

60. Victoria Ibitoye, Journalist & Writer

61. Kenya Hunt, Author and editor

62. Hanaa Anwar, Business Affairs, Guardian News & Media

63. Chine McDonald, Writer and broadcaster

64. Alex Holmes, Writer/Journalist, Freelance

65. Jason Okundaye, Writer, Freelance

66. Sophie Williams, Author

67. Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Writer

68. Candace Allen , Writer & Cultural commentator, Freelance

69. Adam Lowe, Writer, Editor & Publisher, Vada Magazine

70. Liv Little, Author, Freelance

71. Daniellé DASH, Journalist, Screenwriter, Author, Freelance

72. Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, Journalist, Channel 4 News

73. Leila Aboulela, Writer, Self-employed

74. Faima Bakar, Journalist, Metro.co.uk

75. Nadia Beard, Editor-in-chief, The Calvert Journal

76. Thomasina Jordan-Rhodes, journalist, freelance

77. Reni Eddo-lodge, Author

78. Julia Carrie Wong, Reporter, The Guardian

79. Diyora Shadijanova, Editor, Gal-Dem

80. Sofia Akel, Race Equity Specialist, Writer and Researcher, London Metropolitan University

81. Alia Waheed, Journalist, Freelance

82. Desree Gumbs-Carty, Writer, Freelance

83. Olive Pometsey, Writer, Condé Nast

84. Chioma Okereke, Author

85. Lola Okolosie, Writer, Freelance

86. Afshan D’souza-Lodhi, Writer

87. Diana Evans, Writer, Freelance

88. Sharmaine Lovegrove, Publisher, Hachette

89. Dianne Greyson, Director, Equilibrium Mediation Consulting

90. Randeep Ramesh, Journalist, The Guardian

91. Avril E. Russell, Screenwriter, Freelance

92. Deenah al-Aqsa, Writer, Freelance

93. Nishit Morsawala, Journalist, Freelance

94. Degna Stone, Writer

95. Musa Okwonga, Author and broadcaster

96. Jeffrey Boakye, Writer

97. Paul Mendez, Writer, Freelance

98. Aniefiok Ekpoudom, Writer, Freelance

99. Okechukwu Nzelu, Writer, Freelance

100. Yvvette Edwards, Writer

101. Nazia Parveen, Journalist, Guardian News and Media

102. Afua Adom, Journalist and broadcaster, Freelance

103. Jacob Ross, Editor, Writer, Tutor & Journalist, Freelance

104. Patrice Lawrence, Writer, Freelance

105. Ayana Tyrell, Writer, Author of Reflections of Mina

106. Leone Ross, Writer, Freelance

107. Ore Agbaje-Williams, Editor

108. Joseph Harker, Journalist, The Guardian

109. Maya Wolfe-Robinson, Journalist, The Guardian

110. Professor Kurt Barling , Journalist

111. Season Butler, Writer

112. Rachel Edwards, Writer

113. Jennifer Nansubaga Makumbi, Writer

114. Marcus Ryder, Journalist, Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Divesrity

115. Rommi Smith, Writer and Scholar, Freelance

116. Niellah Arboine, Journalist, Gal-Dem

117. Keme Nzerem, Journalist, Nzerem Limited

118. Saima Mohsin, Presenter & International Correspondent F/L

119. Francisco Navas, Digital producer, The Guardian US

120. Malik Meer, West Coast Editor, The Guardian US

121. Inua Ellams, Writer and Curator, Ohh Five Limited

122. Summer Sewell, Journalist, The Guardian US

123. Shona Ghosh, Senior editor, Insider

124. Zita Holbourne, Writer , National Chair BARAC UK

125. Atinuke, Author

126. Lynsey Martenstyn, Producer, Freelance

127. Frida Garza, Editor, The Guardian US

128. Amy Hall, Co-editor, New Internationalist

129. Gary Younge, Writer, Freelance

130. Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, Investigative reporter and editor, Shine A Light,

131. Alexander Tewelde, Executive assistant, US Guardian

132. Symeon Brown, Journalist

133. Natasha Wynarczyk, Features journalist

134. Josh Lee, Writer & editor, various outlets

135. Zarina & Gabrielle, Art critic, The White Pube

136. Unzela Khan, Editor

137. Dr Omega Douglas, Academic, journalist, writer & editor, Goldsmiths College, University of London

138. Annika Spaldingk, Writer, Freelance

139. Ammar Kalia, Journalist, The Guardian

140. Leah Green, Journalist/producer, The Guardian

141. Reya El-Salahi, Journalist, Freelance

142. Cheryl Ndione Writer & Founder, Purple Moon Drama CIC

143. Sam Levin, Reporter, Guardian

144. Poppy Noor, Assistant editor, US Features, The Guardian

145. Jayson Mansaray, Broadcast Journalist

146. Grace Shutti, Journalist, The Guardian

147. Radhika Sanghani, Journalist, Freelance

148. Devika Bhat, Deputy Head of International News, The Guardian

149. Lisa Bent, Author, Freelance

150. Diana Ramirez-Simon, Copy editor, Guardian News Media

151. Malika Booker, Poet / Writer, Manchester Metropolitan University

152. Coco Khan, Columnist, The Guardian

153. Kim Cortes, Commercial art director, The Guardian

154. Katy Massey, Writer and journalist, Freelance

155. Mythili Rao, Journalist , The Guardian

156. Hugh Woozencroft, Broadcaster, TalkSPORT

157. Derek Bardowell, Writer

158. Alex Mistlin, Journalist, The Guardian

159. Sarah Lipton-Sidibeh Writer, Freelance

160. Laura Smith, Managing Editor, Speak Media

161. Ayo Akinwolere, Broadcaster, Freelance

162. Kuchenga, Journalist & Writer, Freelance

163. Nikhita Chulani, Journalist and editor , Guardian

164. Ellen E Jones, Journalist and broadcaster, Freelance

165. Vivian Ho, Journalist, The Guardian

166.Sakhr Al-Makhadi, Exec Producer, AJ+

167. Natalie Grover, science reporter, The Guardian

168. Lucy Fulford, Journalist, Freelance

169. Monisha Rajesh, Journalist and Author, Freelance

170. Joshua Surtees, Journalist, Freelance

171. Khaleda Rahman, Journalist, Newsweek

172. David Shariatmadari, Journalist, The Guardian

173. Damien Morris, Writer, The Observer

174. Burhan Ahmad, Journalist, The Guardian

175. Sylvia Stevens, Filmmaker, Faction Films

176. Kaamil Ahmed , Journalist , Freelance

177. Deena Malcolm, Writer/Journalist, The WILDE Foundation

178. Priya Elan, Journalist, The Guardian

179. Michael Jenkins, writer, 8th Sense Media

180. Stella Oni, Author, Author

181. Amandla Thomas-Johnson, Journalist, Freelance

182. Tali Ramsey, Writer, Freelance

183.Tashaneish Robinson, Journalist, ITV

189. Ayodele Ogunshakin, Storyliner

190. Zoya Raza-Sheikh, Journalist , Gay Times magazine

191. Désirée Reynolds, Writer, Freelance

192. Girish Juneja, Producer, Channel 4 News

193. Glory Alozie, Art assistant, Freelance

194. Tineka Smith, Author and writer, Freelance

195. Kwame MA McPherson, Writer

196. Liliane Landor, Head of Foreign News, Channel4 News

197. Alex Chambers, Editor — Credit markets, International Financing Review

198. Jelani Williams, Digital Advertising Operations Specialist, The Guardian

199. Francesca Sobande, Lecturer in Digital Media Studies, Cardiff University

200. Ima Jackson-obot, Journalist, FT

201. David Olusoga, Historian and Broadcaster

202. Khadijah Ibrahiim, Writer / Poet, Freelance

203. Yohann Koshy, Editor, The Guardian

204. Maanvi Singh, Reporter, The Guardian

205. Travis Armand , Finance Manager, The Guardian US

206. Ankita Rao, Editor, The Guardian

207. Ronke Phillips Pakenham, Journalist, ITV London News

208. Dani Anguiano, Copy editor, Guardian

209. Sachin Nakrani, Editor and writer, The Guardian

210. Cllr Cleo Lake, Writer, Freelance

211. Leana Hosea, Journalist,

212. Simone Pennant, CEO, The TV Collective

213.Dr. Gabriella Beckles-Raymond, Interdisciplinary Philosopher, writer and consultant, Beckles-Raymond Ltd.

214. Sabrina Richmond, Writer, Freelance

215. Ravelle Thomas, Production coordinator, Freelance

216. Husna Ara, Commissioning Editor, New internationalist

217. Stephen Bush, Political Editor, New Statesman

218. Sudip Roy, Journalist, Refinitiv

219. Jane Bradley, Journalist, New York Times, London

220. Lester Holloway, Former Journalist and Editor The Voice, New Nation

221.Tara Joshi, Editor, Gal-Dem

222. Jasmine Dotiwala, Broadcaster and Journalist

223. Dinyar Godrej, Co-editor, New Internationalist

224. Neelam Tailor, Journalist, The Guardian

225. Tara Srinivasan, Journalist, The Guardian

226. Afua Hirsch, Journalist, Freelance

227. Hira Ali , Writer and Author

228. Zing Tsjeng, Executive Editor, VICE UK

229. Elizabeth Pears, Journalist

230. Zahra Warsame, Journalist, Channel 4 News

231. Lorraine King, Journalist, Reach PLC

232. Yasmin Jones-Henry, Journalist, Freelance

233. Paige Cowan-Hall, Editor and writer, Dope Black CIC

234. Sonia Sodha, Columnist, The Guardian/Observer\

235. Marc Deanie, Journalist, DC Thomson

236. Aaron Walawalkar, Investigative Journalist, Liberty Investigates

237. Vicky Gayle, Health Inequality Reporter, The Bureau Local

238. Steve Rose, Journalist, The Guardian

239. Abbianca Makoni, Journalist, Evening Standard

240. Preeti Jha, Journalist, Freelance

241. Tufayel Ahmed, Journalist, Freelance

242. Mike Turner, Journalist, Freelance

243. Jini Reddy, Writer, Freelance

244. Maaiysa Valli, Producer, Channel 4 News

245. Anushka Asthana, Editor at Large, The Guardian

246. Jason Murugesu, Trainee Sub-editor, The Daily Mail

247. Isabel Togoh, Editor, Forbes

248. Anita Sethi, Journalist, Freelance

249. Aliya Rashid, News designer, Freelance

250. Waseem Mirza, Journalist/Presenter, Freelance

251. Layla-Roxanne Hill, Writer, Freelance

252. Saba Salman, Journalist, Freelance

253. Lucy Campbell, Journalist, The Guardian

254. Anita Chaudhuri, Associate Editor, Psychologies

255. Saptarshi Ray, Journalist, Freelance