Fatima Manji: ‘It’s really important that newsrooms reflect the population’

A correspondent on Channel 4 News since 2012, in March Fatima Manji became Britain’s first (and only) hijab-wearing newsreader on national television. Born in Peterborough, she studied history and politics at London School of Economics, before being accepted on a BBC trainee scheme. In July, she made headlines around the world when Kelvin MacKenzie wrote a column in the Sun questioning whether it was appropriate that she presented coverage on the evening of the terrorist attack in Nice.

…. Actually all religious groups are under-represented: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus. It matters because it’s really important that newsrooms reflect the populations they serve. That’s not just a catchphrase, not just because we want to look like some Benetton ad. It’s because it allows you to be in touch with the different communities and to say, “I know someone who’s experiencing that.” It allows us to be better journalists – that’s why it’s important. [259 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 104 votes] “Actually all religious groups are under-represented: Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus. It matters because it’s really important that newsrooms reflect the populations they serve.”

Hmm. This is admirable and problematic in equal measure.

Why is it always the ethnic/religious dimension that is played? Why is that the defining characteristic?

There are plenty of disabled people in this country – why are they not reflected in equal measure?

There are millions of pensioners. What about them?

Whilst this woman is extremely articulate and seems good at her job, and whilst I personally could not care less that she is a Muslim, I am still somewhat uncomfortable at the notion that particular identities warrant equal representation and others do not.

[2ND 99] Muslim yes. Headscarf, why? What Ms Manji can’t see is the fact that you don’t need to state your religion in an obvious way. Why should it be? Jews on telly don’t wear kippas, are they less Jewish for it? TV especially on a news programme is a neutral ground and should stay this way. And no, I cannot get over a headscarf especially with news from Syria where these veiled women are victims of militias from all sides.

[3RD 88] Well, many Arab countries have lots of Westerners living there, so I will enjoy looking out for female TV presenters with uncovered heads, and wearing short sleeve blouses etc. [The Guardian] Read more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: