News & Opinion

British Journalism Award launches Barbara Blake-Hannah prize for journalists from ethnic minority backgrounds

The new award aims to recognise fresh diverse talent.

In honour of Barbara Blake-Hannah, the UK’s first black on-screen TV news reporter, the award hopes to inspire journalists from different backgrounds to apply.

The announcement comes at the same time as Press Gazette introduces additional measures aimed at helping the awards programme become more diverse.

Measures include free entry for journalists from ethnic minority backgrounds, women and those with any form of disability that don’t work at a news organisation.

The judging panel also has a 50/50 gender split for the first time.

Blake-Hannah’s career started in 1968, where she worked for Thames TV. Sky News reporter Bree Johnson-Obeng told her story last year, revealing that: “She was dismissed after nine months without explanation, although her producer confided to her that they were under pressure from viewers who called in daily to say: ‘Get that n***** off our screens.'”

It was Johnson-Obeng’s idea to create the award in her honour, adding that: “A lot of black women are written out of history and it felt like Barbara was a prime example of that. She had her career cut short. I’m hoping that the things that shut doors for her can be used to open doors for others.”

Blake-Hannah said: “I had no idea that something as simple as getting a job would make me a role model. I am so honoured. My father started the Press Association in Jamaica and I know he is looking down with a big smile on his face.”

Press Gazette editor-in-chief Dominic Ponsford commented: “The UK journalism industry has a poor record of reflecting the diversity of the UK and the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards winners and finalists have historically reflected that.

“So when Bree Johnson contacted us with the idea of setting up an award in honour of Britain’s first black on-screen journalist Barbara Blake Hannah we thought this was a great way to start to address this problem. 

“I’m ashamed to say I was not aware of Barbara’s story, but having spoken to her and read up about her history I can’t think of a better role model for the next generation of BAME journalists who are breaking through barriers in the way that she did.”

For more information on how the award works, please visit the programme’s website.

Source: Press Gazette

by Hannah Ohm Thomas 14/08/20

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