The long way to media diversity leads through proper journalistic training and publishing neglected stories, a panel of media professionals concluded at the 2015 Journalism Festival in Perugia.
Stéphane Bijoux, director of diversity at France Télévisions; Tana de Zulueta, president of the Italian committee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; Vittorio Di Trapani, secretary general of the trade union of RAI journalists, and Anna Meli, coordinator of the Charter of Rome Association, joined the discussion chaired by Beatrice Kabutakapua, a freelance journalist specializing in African migration.
Ms Meli pointed out that diversity should be perceived in its broader sense. “Giving aid and solidarity is very important, but it is not sufficient,” she said. “This is a concept that brings back to our mind the pluralism of information.”
Mr Bijoux agreed with that saying that diversity is not “a question of ethnicity, it’s a question of equal opportunities”. He mentioned that people living in suburbs with bad reputation might have similar experience to those who tend to face constraints because of their gender, religion or ethnic background.
He presented a system that France Télévisions uses to monitor the diversity of their programmes and acknowledged that their diversity barometer is a tool that helps reflect the current French reality. “Diversity is not a problem. Diversity is an opportunity,” he said.
Ms Meli explained that it is essential to learn from other broadcasters who paint a diverse picture and employ people from a wide range of backgrounds like the BBC, Channel 4 or a Catalonian channel TV3.
Ms de Zulueta added that TV3 is successful despite the fact that the Spanish public channel Televisión Española struggles with expressing the diversity on their programmes as much as RAI.
Mr Di Trapani suggested that RAI needs to set up its own diversity board. He said that the channel needs to be more transparent and show a clear commitment to deal with the issue. However, according to him, more than a half of the journalists who joined RAI since 2008 were women.
In addition, Mr Di Trapani appealed to introduce a pan-European initiative tackling the issue of newsroom diversity at an international scale.
Ms Zulueta also pointed out that the problem of speaking about diversity stems from ignorance, not hostility. She said that we have lost the ability of “looking at things from different viewpoints”. In her view, public service broadcasters should use their mandate to promote social cohesion.