The Diversity in Media awards are the only awards in the UK that recognise and celebrate the voices that accurately reflect the society we live in.
Today marks the announcement of the 2017 inaugural event on Wednesday Feb 1st at the Landmark Hotel in London.
The media is a powerful everyday tool to inform, entertain, inspire, report, investigate and campaign. What we read and hear shapes our worldview, influences our opinions, and forms part of our identities.
Yet too many voices seem to be missing from these conversations. Older women are elbowed off our television screens in favour of younger faces. Working class voices are rarely heard, neither are the views of people without academic qualifications. Those who do stick their heads above the parapet are often bullied and abused for their differences, instead of celebrated for their achievements.
The Diversity in Media awards have been set up to encourage and inspire people to pursue a career in the media by shining a light on role models and best practise.
However, it promises to be more than just a glitz and glamour award ceremony. Diversity in Media will also be sponsoring education opportunities for a number of aspiring media trainees, to not only celebrate our current unsung media heroes, but to actively diversify the voices we hear, and to create opportunities, share platforms, and help break down the barriers to being heard and represented.
CEO of Global Diversity Company Linda Riley, says that a friend recently lost their job after coming out as gay. “I couldn’t believe that in this day and age people can still have their whole careers jeopardised for being openly gay.
“Diversity in the media is such an important part of reflection our society as it is – for example the under representation of BAME people in the media was highlighted by last year’s Oscars ‘whitewashing’ fiasco, and there is so much more to be done.
“So many of our views are affected by what we see and hear in the media – these awards are to recognise and celebrate the media organisations and individuals who are doing so much to effect change.”
Food blogger Jack Monroe said: “Often the media we see and hear every day does not accurately reflect the people in front or behind it. We are as diverse as our number, each of us with stories to tell, but so often those stories go untold.
“I first entered the public eye as a gay single parent on benefits, with 4 1/2 GCSEs and two sleeve tattoos. I have had no media training, but have gone on to write for national newspapers, broadcast and present radio shows, and have been on BBC Question Time. But I am just a drop in an ocean of seemingly homogenous columnists and commentators.
“The Guardian recently published an investigation into the millions of comments left on its website, and the most abused journalists were gay, black or an ethnic minority, or women. We need to stand up and count our diverse voices, stand alongside them, and encourage people to pursue a career in a media that can accurately reflect our culture, our ethics, our histories, our experiences, our family units, and our day to day lives.
“The awards are not only set up to celebrate those getting it right, but we are looking to sponsor a number of people through media training and education to help those who may not be able to otherwise access a career in the media.”
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party added: “I am delighted to support the inaugural Diversity in Media awards. At the Women’s Equality Party, we want to see the equal country we are striving for depicted all around us, broadcast from our TVs and written about online and in print. Better, more realistic representations of the true diversity of British people’s lives and experiences make it easier – and quicker – to achieve equality.”
Nominations will be taken from members of the public and decided by a panel of judges from across the media. Nominations open on June 18th.