How German media are creating more diversity. When we first published our "Diversity Guide" at the beginning of 2021, we had no idea how many media outlets would actually be willing to take it on. Newspapers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland reported on the guide. Countless editorial offices wrote to us asking for a copy. We were able to hold direct discussions on how diversity works with about eighty editors-in-chief and decision-makers, and interest has not waned to this day.
For this, we would like to say thank you. But here’s the downside: The promise we made with the first handbook has at best only been partially fulfilled. The reason we are asking for your attention once again is that fair representation of journalists of colour or with an immigrant background is not enough. Not only are most media outlets staffed with colleagues who are mostly white and have experienced neither racism nor poverty, they are often also strikingly heterosexual, cisgender, and have no disabilities. And yes, even in 2023, most leadership positions in the media are still held by men.
True diversity values every person as unique and excludes no one. The only way to achieve this is to focus on and include as many socially marginalized groups as possible. We already made this clear at the end of our first "Diversity Guide". In this new digital edition, we are putting our announcement into practice.
We cover many key dimensions of diversity and are pleased to have the support of the MaLIsa Foundation and Pro Quote Medien as experts in gender justice. Expertise on queer people comes from LSVD, the Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany and the Queer Media Society. Leidmedien are also on board and have lent us their expertise regarding the concerns of journalists with disabilities. For let’s be clear on this: discrimination is often intersectional. Black lesbian women encounter problems all their own, as do trans* people with disabilities or gay Muslims. That's why we’ve partnered up to create this new guide.
Again, further experts have given us their views on important questions about equity of access and diverse media content: What needs to change so that more journalists from disadvantaged families finally make it into editorial offices? What are the consequences of the fact that over 30 years after reunification, the German newspaper market is largely in the hands of West Germans? With old white men still dominating editorial boards what are the chances in journalism or in the newsrooms for old white women or young women who want to have children?
We also present recommendations for more gender sensitivity.
We have more news for you: In addition to journalistic media, we are going to look at fictional media formats in the near future. After all, the problem of discrimination and lack of representation does not end with the news broadcast. It continues right into the crime series that follow the news.
In a new fourth chapter coming soon, you'll find information on and tips for media work in fictional genres, from dealing with archive material (e.g.: N*Jim in Huckelberry Finn) and cliché traps in story development up to sexual harassment on set and unequal access to film festivals and film funding. We also point out when problems and solutions in journalistic and fictional media are strikingly similar.
One thing we can't give you back with this guide is the time you have wasted so far in not adapting your media operations to social reality.
Today, around 40 percent of young people in Germany already have an immigrant background. In some cities, the supposedly white-German majority population has long been in the minority. In social media, LGBTIQ* are self-confidently demanding their place and drawing the attention of people with disabilities to media injustices that previously went undetected. And anyone who thinks they can still exclude women from panels, broadcasting slots or leadership positions had better get ready for the next shitstorm.
Diversity goes beyond the mere representation of minorities and is more than just a question of image. More diversity means finding new talent, being able to draw on more skills, creating a better working atmosphere and, above all, attracting new target groups.
What else does diversity bring? New topics, perspectives, and stories instead of the same old clichés. Fortunately, many media professionals have already recognized this. How do we know? From the many questions we get asked in our workshops and lectures and that reach us on social media. Questions like “Can you recommend an expert with a disability? Is it OK to say "coloured" or is it better to say "black" (the latter)? How can we attract young talent from the LGBTIQ* community for our job openings?” This guide offers answers.
As was the case with our first guide, this new handbook presents professionally researched content, practical tips based on many years of work experience and is written by journalists for journalists.
We know how media can function for a plural society, which measures work, and how hurdles can be overcome. We know the challenges that face media outlets. We are also familiar with daily editorial routines. We know that the demand for more diversity initially appears primarily as an additional burden. But we can assure you: the additional work is worth it.
Many editors-in-chief say they have long been ready to make room for more diversity. When the Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen conducted a survey within the 126 journalistic media with the highest circulation in Germany in 2020, the results were clear. The overwhelming majority of the decision-makers who responded said they would like to have a diverse editorial team. The task now is to follow up on this desire for diversity.
Contemporary, diversity-oriented journalism is not rocket science. Media reports and fictional works that portray a diverse society are feasible.
Everyone benefits from more diversity:
- up-and-coming journalists and other media professionals who have too rarely been given the chance to gain a foothold in the industry.
- media formats, for which new topics, stories and material are opening up and which are gaining new target groups.
- our pluralistic society, which today more than ever needs media to address and work for everyone. Today’s media need to expose grievances - instead of reproducing them.
For this to succeed, all you really need is what makes for good media professionals in the first place: Open-mindedness, a feel for the developments of our time and the willingness to learn.