By Lisa Nelson, marketing and communications executive
According to the BBC Lab UK survey published in April, Britain is far from a classless society: instead of the previously assumed three social classes, there are apparently now seven:
- Elite – The most privileged class. High level of all three capitals (economic, cultural and social)
- Established middle class – High levels of all three capitals but not as high as Elite. Gregarious and culturally engaged
- Technical middle class – New, small class, with high economic capital but less culturally engaged. Relatively few social contacts
- New affluent workers – Medium levels of economic, but higher levels of cultural and social capital. Young and active
- Emergent service workers – New class with low economic but high ’emerging’ cultural capital. High social capital. Young and often found in urban areas
- Traditional working class – Low on all three capitals, but not the poorest. Older on average than other classes
- Precariat, or precarious proletariat – Most deprived group, with low levels of all three capitals
This poses a question to us at the Journalism Diversity Fund, as part of our job is to encourage more working class people into our news rooms: if the traditional working class is dwindling as this research suggests, is our mission misguided?
If anything, this research underlines the importance of our work even more. A more extensive class system shows we have a more diverse population. This means it’s more important than ever to make sure we have people reporting on the issues that matter to all sections of the community.
If more proof was needed that the class system is alive and well, a recent report published by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) highlighted the “troublingly low” level of ethnic diversity within UK journalism, and revealed an industry still heavily influenced by social class.
The study showed a higher proportion, when compared to other industries, of journalists who had a parent in higher level occupations, particularly managers, directors and professionals. The majority of journalists are highly qualified, with 82 per cent holding a degree and more than a third with a post-graduate qualification. However, 83 per cent of journalists said they completed a period of work experience or internship prior to employment, and for 92 per cent of those the work was unpaid. These statistics all point to financial hardship for those trying to get a job in journalism and thus highlight the potential difficulties faced by those in poorer circumstances.
The Journalism Diversity Fund works to address this imbalance. The fund has provided 137 students with bursary funding since 2006/07 to help increase social and ethnic diversity in the industry and provide assistance to those in challenging circumstances. But that’s not enough. As the recent statistics from the BBC and the NCTJ have shown, there is still a lot of work to do.
We are looking for individuals without the means to study for a journalism course, but with the talent to succeed. If you share this with everyone you know, you can help us find them.