Posts Tagged ‘group think’

It’s a white man’s world in the lobby

20/12/2013, 10:38:02 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Since 1884 the cosy club of the lobby has shaped political journalism in Britain. With privileged access to MPs in the lobby outside the Commons’ chamber and a remit to report politicians’ views on “lobby terms,” (e.g. without naming the source), their judgement on what merits reporting and how it is written, frames the political debate.

However, for such an influential institution, relatively little is known about its members. For most other parts of Britain’s governing elite, such as MPs or the judiciary, there is a basic level of transparency. The gender balance and proportion from minority communities are a matter of public knowledge and debate.

But not with the lobby.

Uncut has analysed the membership of this august body to see how it measures up. The results paint a depressingly familiar picture.

In all, there are 155 accredited members of the lobby. Out of this total, 33 or 21% are women and just 7 or 5% come from minority communities.

For minorities, the reality is a little worse than even the raw numbers suggest. Only 5 of the 7  lobby journalists are employed by the types of news organisation to which aspirants will routinely apply in the hope of one day receiving the honour of a lobby pass.

Take a bow Rajeev Syal, the Guardian and Observer’s Whitehall correspondent, Samana Haq, ITN’s Westminster news editor, John Piennar, 5 Live’s chief political correspondent, Kiran Stacey political correspondent of the FT and Anne Alexander, Daybreak’s politics producer. You are the lucky ones.

Team diversity is completed by Adel Darwish, a longtime lobby hand now plying his trade for Middle East News, and Ahmed Versi who edits and publishes the Muslim News.

If the lobby looked like the country there would be over double the number of women journalists and three times as many from minority communities.

This institution has the dubious distinction of being about as representative than the House of Commons on which it reports where 23% of the MPs are women and 4% are from an ethnic minority.


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