Enjoyed speaking at the Nations and Regions Media Conference
19 April 2018
I am proud to have addressed delegates of the Nations and Regions Media Conference about equality and diversity in the media.
Speaking alongside fellow students Molly Keyworth and Megan Hayward at MediaCityUK, my speech addressed a need to not just 'paint stereotypes', but to 'draw a rainbow of life'.
This year's conference was hosted BBC Radio 1 presenters Katie Thistleton and Darryl Morris and featured a real range of sessions. Controller of BBC Radio 4 Gwyneth Williams was interviewed by former BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas, which preceded an audience Q&A with her. There was also opportunity for delegates to network during the day and make contacts to improve their work.
The Conference was started in the early 1990s by former chairman of Granada Television David Plowright and the University of Salford. Its aim was to become a platform for the media industry in the nations and regions and now has become a popular annual event attracting industry professionals from across the UK and the world.
You can find out more about the Nations and Regions Media Conference by clicking here.
The speech in full
It’s clear equality and diversity is incredibly important to young people. It is my perspective that one of the most critical responsibilities we have as media professionals is to represent our audience as best we can. I’m male, I’m white, I’m from Surrey. You might look at me and think traditionally, I have the stereotypical attributes of a media professional. What you can’t see however is this.
I am autistic. I am gay. I challenge two stereotypes, a perception that the disabled are in wheelchairs and a perception that all gay men are camp. My ‘obsession’ fuelled by my autistic traits, is to make media. My dream is to make sure people in the shadows are represented and treated with respect. But there’s diversity within diversity, and it’s important that we don’t just paint stereotypes, that we draw a real spectrum, a rainbow of life. We know how the internet, in particular social media, has the power to manipulate democracy. The same applies to radio. It’s essential that we interview with a degree of humility, integrity and with no agenda. We must value one’s struggle, which without you would have no story.
Despite my obvious differences, Salford is a city I have grown to love. For my Final Project, I have been covering the story of a local Autistic chef and have interviewed many of his friends and volunteers in the Salford community. I’m going to now play you a short clip, one of these ladies has lived in Salford for over 70 years.
CLIP: "MediaCity looks great, but I don't think they want ordinary Salford people that involved. This place has become a bit of a beacon, but it isn't really for Salford people."
Now it’s an opinion. But as media professionals, we should feel uncomfortable. MediaCityUK is growing. Let’s use it as an opportunity to hire more local people and shine light on those who deserve recognition in this city. We have to strive to be always better and we should never take the ability to communicate for granted. Pay attention to the details but pay respect to your contributor and respect to your diverse audience.