Clive Myrie, international award-winning journalist, reflects on the importance of role models and systemic racism

Clive Myrie is an award winning journalist who became a recognised face in many UK households as a BBC News Presenter. Clive can often be seen presenting the One, Six and Ten O’clock News bulletins on the BBC but before the COVID-19 pandemic, Clive frequently travelled the world as a foreign correspondent where some of his most prestigious posts include Washington Correspondent, Europe Correspondent, Asia Correspondent and Africa Correspondent, which have seen him reporting from over 80 countries.

Clive Myrie’s career

Clive has also been heavily involved in making features and programmes for the likes of Panorama, Newsnight and Radio 4, where he has covered some of the most important stories of our time including Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation, President Trump’s state visit to London, and the all-English Champions League 2019 final in Madrid between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

In March 2021, Clive Myrie was named the new host of quiz show Mastermind but Clive will continue to present programmes like the BBC’s News at Six and Ten.

Clive is incredibly well respected in the industry and the many awards he has won are testament to his character. Clive’s achievements go beyond simply being a great journalist. He is a truly remarkable character trusted to bring light to the most sensitive issues and interview some of the most high-profile people in the world.

In 2018, Clive’s covering of Mexico’s drug cartels received worldwide acclaim and was nominated for an amazing eight international awards. Clive has also been nominated twice for France’s prestigious Bayeux War Correspondent award and was a crucial member of the BBC team nominated for a BAFTA for their coverage of the devastating floods in Mozambique in 2000.

Clive talking about his early childhood inspiration

Clive has talked fondly on his childhood where he discussed the importance of having a role model in the form of Trevor McDonald and what inspired him to become a journalist, saying:

“My parents didn’t want me to become a journalist. They wanted me to be a lawyer or a dentist, a respectable middle-class job for their first-born child born in the United Kingdom. Watching TV as a kid I saw various people who intrigued me. They seemed to be in one place one week and somewhere else the week after. There was a guy on ITV who looked like me and sounded a bit like me. He travelled around a lot. I thought maybe I could do what he does. If he can do it, so can I. He was Trevor McDonald. He inspired me to want to be a journalist.”

Clive’s experiences of racism

Clive has reflected on his own experiences of racism saying: “It actually doesn’t really bother me at all. What bothers me is the general sense that we live in a country where some people think racism is either imagined, or in people’s minds, and I think that is a notion that has to be fought. I could count on the fingers of one hand the amount of racist abuse that I received from when I started in journalism in 1988 through to about 2008, though there was a guy in the early 90s who would send faeces in the post. But it has picked up in the last decade and become incredibly more prevalent in the last few years. Why has that happened? I don’t know.’

Clive talking about the importance of representation and previous failings in tackling racism in TV/journalism

Clive recognises the hard work it takes to reach a stage where there are certainly more minority-ethnic role models available for children: “They’re a lot better. There are far more positive role models out there who can signal to a young viewer that this could be a career for them. But in news broadcasting there are a limited number of slots out front, so it is always going to be difficult to break in, as much for a white, working-class person as for a black person”.

However, Aratrust strongly supports Clive when he acknowledges that there is still much work to do. Highlighting numerous failings in tackling the issue of systemic racism that has been known about for a long time, he says:

We’ve had God knows how many reports over the last 40 years detailing systemic racism and systemic lack of diversity across a range of institutions across British society, but nothing seems to get done. Without dealing in opinion, we’ve had numerous reports and we’ve had little action done on the recommendations. One wonders what is the point of reports if the recommendations are not going to be acted on?

Aratrust agrees with Clive as he remains hopeful that changes will start to happen to increase diversity and representation especially in TV/journalism saying, “You can always do more and this idea that managers and bosses tend to recruit in their own image is something I know is being looked at very closely by the BBC, ITN and Channel 4.”

Shocking statistics outlining the lack of diversity in UK journalism

The lack of diversity and representation of Black and minority-ethnic journalists in UK newspapers and on our TV screens is certainly no surprise to those in the industry, as some of the shocking findings from the Women in Journalism 2020 report found:

Not a single Black reporter was featured on the front page of any of the major newspapers.

• Out of 174 front-page by-lines, just six were written by people of colour. That means just 1 in 30 front-page by-lines went to non-white reporters.

• Out of 128 prime-time presenter slots monitored throughout the week, 30% were BAME and 12% were Black.

Out of all BAME expert guests’ appearances on TV, more than half were in the context of coverage either directly related to race, or during coverage of non-white communities, or during coverage focussing on predominantly non-white countries.

Action plan and recommendations outlined by mainstream media organisations to improve diversity in UK Journalism

Against the background of these shocking statistics that paint a terrible picture of the UK journalism industry and taking into account the sheer volume of Black and minority-ethnic talent the industry possesses, Aratrust welcomes initiatives by two of the biggest players in the media and journalism space, the BBC and ITV, that have announced schemes to facilitate more diverse talent in their organisations:

• The BBC has got a special fund for ‘Local News Partnerships’ set up in recognition that local newspapers and local journalism play an essential role in our local democracy. They expose important local stories – sometimes with national significance – that national and international media organisations just miss. The local news provider must “Target an audience typically located in a specific geographical area which is no greater than a single Nation of the UK or which targets a BAME community of the UK”.

• ITV launched the ‘Breaking into News’ competition which, while open to applicants of all ages, experience, and backgrounds, is also an effort to promote diversity in broadcast journalism and create pathways into the industry for people that would otherwise find it difficult. The initiative is a travel-expensed scheme, which gives people from different backgrounds an opportunity to produce impactful stories and get their foot on the career ladder which is in contrast to the barriers presented by unpaid internships and work experience in the industry.