We read with interest the interview last week with Fareena Alam.
While it is not unusual to hear British newspapers described as having
newsrooms which are predominately white and male, and often rightly so,
we have to take exception to Ms Alam’s description of The Observer ‘s
newsroom as “very white, very upper class and very male”.
was at the paper at a time when of 23 members of staff in the newsroom,
three were Asian, one was black, and nine were women. There was also
one other Muslim – and several Jews, a Buddhist, three Catholics, and a
good few agnostics – in the newsroom alone and she was most certainly
not “the only Muslim working at the newspaper”. As for “upper class”,
well that’s not a description fitting anyone here at all.
was a valued addition to the newsroom and was later invited to a series
of meetings with other Muslim journalists and opinion formers hosted by
The Observer .
She was supported and helped by several members of
staff and was invited into any number of conferences and executive
meetings by the editor, Roger Alton, who also asked her to write a
column on more than one occasion – so she was allowed free rein with
Not bad for a woman on a month’s paid work experience at a national Sunday newspaper, with no journalistic training whatsoever.