Daily US Times: Prominent journalists in the UK have dismissed claims by one of their own industry bodies that the British press does not have racism problem.
The objections come after the Society of Editors rejected allegations made by Duke of Sussex Prince Harry that racism had played a role in how the British press covered his wife Meghan Markle.
The comments were made during an explosive interview with US TV talkshow host Oprah Winfrey in which Harry and Meghan opened up about the challenges of life inside the royal family.
The media coverage “was bringing out a part of people that was racist,” the Duchess of Sussex said.
Ian Murray, Society of Editors executive director, said in a statement on Monday that it was “untrue” that sections of the UK press were bigoted.
“It is not acceptable for the Duke and Duchess to make such claims without providing any supporting evidence,” his statement said, pointing to “universal supporting coverage” in the media of their marriage.
The Society of Editors has 400 members, most of them are working journalists, and runs the Press Awards, the premier annual awards event in British journalism. The event was previously called the British Press Awards.
Murray said in the statement: “The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence.”
“If sometimes the questions asked are awkward and embarrassing, then so be it, but the press is most certainly not racist.”
But several journalists in the UK disputed that view.
Prominent UK newspaper the Guardian said in statement posted to its corporate account on Twitter on Tuesday: “We disagree with the Society of Editors statement on the Meghan and Harry interview.”
Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said: “Every institution in the United Kingdom is currently examining its own position on vital issues of race and the treatment of people of colour. As I have said before, the media must do the same. It must be much more representative and more self-aware.”
Journalists cited a range of evidence to support their claims that the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle had received racist coverage, including comparisons of favorable coverage afforded the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and statistics showing that UK newsrooms continue to struggle with diversity.
But compelling evidence can also be found in headlines from some major tabloids. In 2016, One Mail Online headline declared that Meghan was “(almost) straight outta Compton.”
The Daily Star ran a headline around the same time, asking whether Harry would “marry into gangster royalty?”
A columnist at The Times newspaper and author of a recent book on how imperialism shaped Britain, Sathnam Sanghera, said on Twitter that it “pains me to say that my industry has been in denial about its institutional racism.”
Jess Brammar, Huffington Post UK editor-in-chief, said on Twitter she disagreed with the Society’s assertion that it is “untrue that sections of UK press were bigoted.”
And senior political producer for ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” Anne Alexander, added that she was “still trying to process this ridiculous statement.”
Alexander added: “How can you possibly say that no part of the media is bigoted? It’s a partial reflection of society, which is in parts bigoted.”