ABC’s foreign correspondent talks to students about the lack of diversity in journalism

By Sara Valle-Martínez

A senior foreign correspondent for ABC News highlights the lack of diversity in British journalism.

Ian Pannell, who prior to joining ABC worked for BBC for over twenty years, said: “There’s been a lot about diversity in the media, which is a huge issue about race, and about sex and sexuality, who’s actually represented and what stories they’re telling.”

A 2016 survey of 700 news professionals conducted by City University London revealed that 94% of British journalists are white and 86% are university educated. The same research showed the lack of diversity with just 0.4% of Muslim journalists and 0.2% black.

Ian Pannell said: “For me a huge issue was class. Where are the journalists coming from? If the journalists only come from the other middle classes and have gone to private school, have gone to certain types of universities, then they’re really only going to be telling certain types of stories.”

Photo by cottonbro on

Mr. Pannell said the democratisation of media is taking place. But a 2021 study by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism conducted in the UK, Germany, Brazil and South Africa showed 15% of the 80 top editors across the 100 brands covered are non-white whilst 42% of the countries’ populations are non-white.

The senior television and radio correspondent said: “What we’re missing and what we have been missing, I think for a long time, is hearing stories from the ground up. Journalism is a bit like history. It’s been dominated by the stories of the people of the elite.”

According to ABC News’ website, Ian Pannell travelled all over the world, reporting from North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He added that effort, judgement, and hearing from different perspectives are a priority. He said: “[It] is about adding those extra layers to what it is that you see.”

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