LIVE: Diversity is key to attracting talent into journalism, says Vidar Hjardeng

ITV diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng discusses the issues around inclusivity at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week.

By Matthew Brannen

News organisations must diversify their TV, radio and written output if they want to connect with the next generation of journalists.

ITV diversity consultant Vidar Hjardeng told Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week journalists’ work had an impact on the industry and must appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

He said: “People who are looking for a career in journalism will either be won over or alienated by a news organisation’s output.”

Vidar, who was awarded his MBE in 2012 for services to visually impaired people and to broadcasting, has spent more than 25 years at ITV as well as working for groups that help the blind and partially sighted.

He talked about the early years of his career, saying: “When I started there were no women as heads of news organisations.” A change had come about because the output had become more diverse, as well as improved hiring practices and changes in culture.

Encouraged by his young audience, Vidar pointed out that younger generations understood diversity more than ever. A willingness to talk about mental health was one example of how younger generations were more willing to accept inclusion.

Senior lecturer Mike Best asked Vidar whether he thought news organisations would have become more diverse without regulation and legislation. Vidar said he believed people would not watch, listen to or read news organisations’ output if the stories did not speak to them, in all their diversity.

He was positive about the industry but added that there was plenty more to do.

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