…Inspiring

I am not a world traveler. I do not hop on planes without some trepidation. And let’s just say I don’t have a body that makes getting there half the “fun.” But I don’t regret the 6-hour-plus flight that brought me to London or the 80 quid I had to pay for a taxi from the airport after I missed my first flight. It’s all been worth it.

Worth what you ask?

Ah, well. It would take the better part of the week to tell it all. And I don’t think I even have the nuance of vocabulary to say exactly how inspiring this city is. It’s a place that demands its visitors to reflect on their growth and their place in time and space. It is grand and gritty. The city in some ways symbolizes my time as a graduate student at Kent State University, not just in the Global Advertising and Public Relations class, but the entire experience so far. At the highs, I have learned so much about media, myself and the world around me, and at the lows I have scratched and clawed my way through assignments that seemed beyond my capacity. Through it all, I’ve grown.

So, here it is

I put together a video presentation to show you just a few glimpses of London through my camera lens. Enjoy and tell me what you think.

Oh, by the way, I used a little bit of British slang earlier: quid. It’s the same as pound in British currency. Wanna know more about Brit slang, go here.

…Access

I came to the United Kingdom to ask a somewhat general but complex question: What are the similarities and differences that journalists of color here and in the United States are experiencing in a time of digital disruption and phenomenal fiscal accountability? On this journey of exploration, I spoke recently with two minority members of the U.K.’s 38,000-member National Union of Journalists. 

Voices united in hope 

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Kamil Ahmed is a British-Bengali whose father and mother came separately to the United Kingdom at young ages. Connie St. Louis is a Brit born to parents who immigrated from Jamaica. Despite the different backgrounds of the Asian man and black woman, the lives of these two journalist hold several similarities, and their voices cry out with the same hope for a more diverse industry. Beyond their own past and current experiences, they are cautiously optimistic about increasing diversity among the ranks in British journalism. They believe, however, any change will come in the distant future and with little aide from the industry itself or even from an ever-evolving society or empowered minority groups that, like in America, rose up to demand equality even if the demands would not be fully realized.

Background tells story

One of the commonalities between St. Louis and Ahmed is the push from their parents to excel in education. And post-secondary education for both has made the difference in their lives as journalists. Both believe that it gave them the access through doors that might otherwise be shut to those not a part of the upper-middle class families in England. While St. Louis spends most of her time educating tomorrow’s journalists, her lengthy career in radio for the BBC began during a period when few minorities entered the industry. Ahmed’s ambition led him to seek a job at the The Sunday Times without “knowing” anyone, unlike others who seemingly had connections and were hired there.

Despite the U.K.’s seeming disbelief in institutionalized racism in its journalism industry (and the country), Ahmed and St. Louis both say they know of or have experienced forms of workplace prejudice including hiring practices. Along with their own perceptions, they point to recent studies that show how poorly represented minorities are and a lack of recognition of diversity as an issue or a lack of transparency in how they deal with calls for diversity.

Best opportunity for change

Both journalists say the best chances for more representation of minorities inside the newsrooms of the U.K. are in recruitment of trained and mentored minority youth and thoughtful retention efforts toward experienced minority journalists who would stay, move up the ranks, and facilitate the further hiring of qualified minority journalists.

These two journalists have more to say. I look forward to sharing as much as I can once I’ve gathered more data to balance and round out my ongoing research. Stay tuned.