Coventry Conversation: Equality and Diversity in the media – Dhiren Katwa
Dhiren Katwa works at the environment agency as an external relations advisory. He also sits on the ITV Central Diversity Panel and on the Diversity Board of the Institute of Public Relations, as well as this he sits as a member of the equality council of the national union of journalists (NUJ)
All of this must have seemed highly improbable to Dhiren 10 years ago, as in the summer of 1999 he graduated from Coventry University as a pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry graduate. He explained that his strange diverstion from potentially working at a chemist to being a journalist came from a member of the asian voice believing in his journalism ability and he only seriously considered it himself after a visit to 10.Downing St.
He made lots of comments and presented a number of facts about diversity in today’s media, including that according to a number of sources, there are as many as 20% of british citizens classed as disabled, however they are not fairly represented in the media as many TV studios do not employ a decent rate of disabled staff, The BBC has the highest percentage out of the ‘Big 4’ (BBC, ITV, CH4 and SKY) and even then that was a low 4.4%.
the 2011 census is expected to show that 15% of Britain is from an ethnic background, however Dhrien has mentioned from his own experience that he is usually the only ‘brown face’ in a room when journalists get together. he believes that Racism and Discrimination do still exist in the media, but it is not as obvious as in the past.
He does believe that some parts of media are aiming to help minority groups get a chance in the media including the Guardian with their workshops for minority writers
Dhrien admitted that if he continued to work in pharmacy he’d probably be on double, possibly even triple the salary he earns from journalism and also that going on as a journalist dissapoints his family slightly, at least he believes they’d be prouder of him as a pharmacist. however he continues to work as a journalist despite the low pay to show the truth in his writings. He also admitted he has been offered bribes in the past, all of which he refused, this is partily one of the reasons he has built up a good reputation as a journalist.
Dhrien offered a number of tips to young journalists, although I am not aiming to be a journalist I felt that number of these pieces of advice was helpful to me for when I leave the university, these included tips such as:
- believe in yourself, if you don’t nobody will
- identify strengths and weaknesses
- don’t be afraid to challenge and be challenged
- never underestimate yourself
- if your passionate go for it.
- work with diginity and integrity
- consider volunteering but don’t get taken for a ride.
- never forget mentors.
- be in the right place at the right time.
Dhiren was also questioned about the proposed closure of BBC’s Asian network. although he believed people would ‘be up in arms’ about it’s closure, he doesn’t believe that the BBC should be segregating it’s audiences in such way and instead should be integrating stations like the Asian network into the mainstream.
as a final comment he admitted he is happy where he his at the moment and could see him doing the same jobs he’s doing at the moment for a good few years.