Why isn’t our press more diverse?: Dorothy Byrne

Head of news and current affairs, Channel 4

When I started my TV career at Granada in Manchester, only five people from ethnic minorities worked in the whole place. I know that because I had to survey the workforce in my role as local ACTT equality officer. "That's five too many, " declared one of my colleagues when I revealed the result. Another colleague suggested the five should go back to their own countries to get jobs. At the time, Granada had a reputation for making radical programmes and was said to be packed with Trots.

Today I work at Channel 4. Thirteen per cent of our staff come from ethnic minorities, which is above average, and I am pretty sure people would be sacked if they made comments at work like those above. Ethnic diversity has to be represented both on and off screen to provide a range of viewpoints and ideas throughout the organisation. Better representation brings insights and stories that challenge accepted thinking and defy political correctness.

When I think of films we have broadcast inspired by journalists such as Sorious Samura, Mehdi Hasan, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Tazeen Ahmad, it's not that we couldn't have made the programmes without them, it's just I'm not sure we would have done.

This article first appeared in the 16 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The battle for Britain