Channel 4 bucks trend to empower women and minorities in journalism

Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman argues journalism lacks diversity and says financial constraints make her “pessimistic” about the overall state of investigative journalism.

Newman, who blogs on women in politics and doggedly pursued improper conduct allegations made against former Liberal Democrat chief executive Lord Rennard, tells Newspryng there are “far too few women and ethnic minorities” in the journalism industry.

Channel 4 News is a news organisation that bucks the trend because half its main presenters are women or from ethnic minorities, says Newman.

In an industry beset by financial turmoil, Newman believes there is not enough investment in talent the industry needs.

“I’m quite pessimistic about the state of investigative journalism because tight resources mean too few organisations are able to invest in the top reporters they need,” says Newman.

“I am so fortunate to work at a company which really recognises and supports top-grade journalists, but I’m afraid the pressures on the newspaper and broadcasting industries mean this is a rarity.”

Even the publicly-funded BBC is suffering with reports it is preparing to cut a further 500 jobs from its news division.

A BBC Trust report found the public rank Channel 4’s investigative journalism higher than the BBC’s despite the latter having significantly more resources.

“A small company can run rings round a bigger rival because there’s less bureaucracy and more agility,” says Newman.

“Channel 4 News does well despite a much smaller financial outlay than our rivals because we put a bit premium on hiring and retaining quality journalists.”

While a prolific tweeter herself, Newman says technology can be a “double-edged sword” and Twitter “puts too much of a premium on immediacy when investigative journalism is a slow burn”.

The other edge of the metaphorical sword is that technology has allowed the rise of less traditional news organisations including Guido Fawkes and Huffington Post, which “unearth great scoops” ahead of the “dead tree press”.

Newman concludes: “It’s easy to read short, gossipy online stories but I don’t believe the public will tire of longer-form investigative journalism.

“Wrongdoing has to be exposed and as with the expenses scandal, the public has a right to know and an appetite to read or watch it.”

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