Private Frazer doesn’t do campaigns. Snark, sarcasm, uncorroborated stories – yes, yes and oh yes, but manning the barricades? taking to the streets? That’s for people who actually care about something.
But here’s a story. It’s from an impeccable source (unusual for me) at what we’ll call Horribly Big Publishing Ltd. The source was doing some first interviews for a mid-level sales post and recommended one candidate to the head of advertising as worth giving a second interview. “Which one was he?” asked Horribly Big Publishing’s head of advertising. “Joe Bloggs, the tall black guy.” said my correspondent.
“No,” says the head of advertising, “we tried that experiment once and it didn’t work.”
Let that sink in. This is a publisher of some big names brands, in London – one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. In 2016. Two thousand and fucking sixteen.
It’s extremely rare to come across that sort of overt prejudice anywhere, let alone a magazine publishing company, but before you feel too good about yourself, have a look around your own office. Does the proportion of non-white employees come close to what you’d see in a London street or London school? And how many publishing companies have people of colour at board level? I know of two off the top of my head – there may be more, but it’s hardly commonplace; I can think of more magazines where the entire staff – the entire staff – is white. (And have a wee look at the snapshots from last year’s PPA Awards ceremony.)
We need to face up to the fact that magazine publishing is institutionally racist. And we should be doing something about it.
I refer you back to the first sentence of this post, and you’ll realise that the “we” is Private Frazer kicking the ball down the park for someone else to pick up. Press Gazette, Media Briefing and, especially the PPA, over to you.