The editor of the Daily Mirror is among 50 white journalists who have added their voices to calls for action to make UK newsrooms more diverse.
They added their voices to a letter signed by 50 black, Asian and minority ethnic journalists in June that accused the industry of repeatedly failing to improve on diversity.
Daily Mirror North of England correspondent Jeremy Armstrong rallied the journalists together as he is friends with the organisers of the original petition, Mail reporters Shekhar Bhatia and Vivek Chaudhary.
Armstrong told Press Gazette: “[Bhatia] said what struck him about it was it tended to be BAME journalists and members of the media who were speaking out about these things and were asking for assistance and what he wanted was other journalists, quite simply white journalists, to do the same thing and to try and emphasise the message of that first petition.
“It struck me that was a really simple thing to do, a very straightforward idea but a very good one because I think it adds weight to the argument, it shows that we have sympathy with that view and support them.”
He said Mirror editor Alison Phillips (pictured) and her team at the paper had been supportive, adding that publisher Reach is “working closely with all the relevant bodies to try and do something practical, to try and give a greater voice and what it boils down to is to give more job opportunities to BAME applicants”.
Phillips, who is set to meet with Bhatia and Chaudhary to discuss the issue further, said: “The lack of journalists who are black or from a minority ethnic group is an issue for all journalists and for all those who believe a healthy press must reflect and represent the readers it serves.
“For these reasons we must all work together to rectify this problem. We owe it to our trade and our readers to get it right.”
Armstrong gathered support from across the Mirror, other Reach titles and the Mail, Sun, Telegraph and BBC.
He said the final figure could have been well over 50 as people continued to get in touch to voice their support after the deadline had passed.
He noted that white journalists have previously spoken out individually to urge action on diversity but rarely as an organised group.
The letter urged editors to implement positive recruitment campaigns and properly paid traineeships, and ensure equal promotion and pay for BAME staff already in newsrooms.
It said the often-used “colour blind” approach to recruitment was not working because it “ignores the challenges that many BAME kids face”.
The journalists also backed the idea of having audits of BAME representation in news organisations with their results published publicly, followed by regular diversity reviews to ensure the change is sustainable.
Armstrong said he hoped the petition made anyone reading about it to “think about their own newsroom where they work and the ethnicity of the people around them and makes them more aware – and think about it and talk about it in every sphere that they operate in”.
The full list of journalists who added their names to the letter:
Alison Phillips, editor, Daily Mirror
Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor
Pippa Crerar, Daily Mirror political editor
Russell Myers, Daily Mirror Royal Editor
Christopher Hughes, Daily Mirror Defence and Security editor
Christopher Bucktin, United States editor, Mirror, Express, Star,
Nicola Methven, Daily Mirror TV editor
Brian Reade, Daily Mirror Columnist
Ian Vogler, photographer, BAJ NEC member
Ashleigh Rainbird, Daily Mirror diary editor
Martin Fricker, Mirror senior reporter
Adam Aspinall, Mirror district reporter
Lucy Thornton, Mirror district reporter
Stephen White, Mirror senior reporter
Grace MacAskill, Sunday Mirror feature writer
Jacqui Thake, Mirror sub editor
James Powell, Mirror sub editor
Nick Walker, Mirror sub editor
Dean Aldridge, Mirror sub editor
Nigel Nelson, political editor, Sunday Mirror/Sunday People
Robert Mendick, chief reporter, Daily Telegraph
Louise Flood, Daily Mirror news desk secretary
Susie Boniface, columnist
Steve Bates, chief football writer, Sunday People
Rachel Bletchly, freelance feature writer
Emily Retter, feature writer, Daily Mirror
Andy Commins, photographer, Daily Mirror
Sara Commins, reporter, Evening Chronicle, Newcastle
Sam Greenhill, chief reporter, Daily Mail
Alexander Ward, reporter, Daily Mail
Christian Gysin, reporter, Daily Mail
Claire Duffin, reporter, Daily Mail
Jerry Lawton, reporter, Daily Star
Roger Allen, freelance photographer, Surrey
Mark Blacklock, freelance, Tyneside.
Victoria Williams, head of news and features, North News and Pictures,
Kevin Donald, KTD Media, Middlesbrough.
Philippa Goymer, reporter, BBC, Newcastle
Dave Leigh, chief content officer, the Mega Agency, USA.
Deborah Collcutt, deputy features editor, Daily Express.
Mike Glover, freelance, Cumbria
Jan Disley, freelance, Manchester
Nick Parker, chief foreign correspondent, The Sun.
Robin Perrie, North east reporter, The Sun.
Adrian Lee, freelance journalist, Sussex.
Jane Utting, freelance journalist, Sussex.
Jeremy Selwyn, photographer, Evening Standard.
Ian Gallagher, reporter, Mail on Sunday
Alan McKinlay, assistant sports editor and columnist, Daily Mirror
Julie Porter, assistant sports editor, Sunday People