Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“I believe that a change can and will come” — Sky Sports News reporter Jaydee Dyer on diversity in the sports media

Posted on 19 March 2019 by Tatiana Alderson

Jaydee Dyer, along with fellow reporter and presenter Paul Gilmour, was the second youngest Sky Sports News reporter ever appointed, at the age of 25, in 2018.

Now aged 26, he has landed high profile and news-making interviews with the likes of Jesse Lingard, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and many more big names in the industry. He now presents Sky’s NBA coverage on Sunday evenings.

Additionally, he was the first ever black sports reporter on Soccer AM, despite the show running for 20 years prior and having very little diversity both on and off screen.

When he was recruited by Soccer AM, they even said to him how shameful it was on their part that it took that long to employ a person of an ethnic minority group to present their show. They had the same producers for twenty years, recycling the same ideas.

In 2015, the Reuters Institute published research citing that, in the UK, only 0.2% of British journalists are black.

Credit – Jaydee Dyer

In light of this, we discussed the issue of diversity representation in the sports media, whether it’s improved at all, and why it seems that we’re still miles behind where we should be in this country.

Jaydee said: “I’ve been in the media since 2014 and the situation really hasn’t improved that much. We are quite backwards as a country.

“People think that it’s all about what’s in front of camera, but it goes so much deeper than and beyond that. People think that if you throw a black person in front of the camera, it’s okay, but it’s so much more than that.”

The Sky Sports News frontman believes that the situation won’t change until the decision makers change. There’s still an unconscious bias.

He added: “I’ve been in enough newsrooms now around the world to know we’re miles behind in decision making.

“In America, there is a larger black community so it’s easier for them to employ. I went to America at the age of 21 and they gave me a shot at live reporting. This is what got me into the BBC, ITV and Sky when I came back as it made my CV so good, but there is no way I would have got this shot as a young black person if I had stayed in the UK.”

Credit – Jaydee Dyer

Currently, over 100 black and minority journalists across the country, as part of the Black Journalists Collective UK (BJCUK), have written to sports editors in a push to increase diversity in nationwide newsrooms, so that reporting of stories about how non-white people are covered is improved.

This comes in light of media coverage of Raheem Sterling, who has accused the press of fuelling racism. The BJCUK “believe there is a direct correlation between the ethnic make up of the staff in a newsroom and how issues are covered.”

Jaydee feels that journalism needs to better serve all communities in the UK. By doing this, broadcasters and media organisations need to widen their recruitment process, change the narrow mindedness in specific schools and areas they are going to to recruit from.

He explained: “They need to diversify the areas to which they recruit. There is an unconscious thinking that everyone has to come through the back door.

“I’ve been at Sky for over nine months, and we have a lot of work experience people who come through, but I’m still yet to see a black person come in for work experience. Despite this, Sky is the best out of any other company in the UK about wanting to make a change.”

“When I worked at the BBC, the job I initially applied for I got a straight rejection from. I knew one of the people doing recruitment and asked what I could have done differently, and if there were any other opportunities coming up.

“She told me that I was actually over qualified for the role, but I didn’t even get an interview opportunity. The rejection was based on the piece of paper put in front of them, and that tells me everything I need to know about the recruitment process.”

His experience is in line with a study by the National Council for the Training of Journalists which has found that while 26% of white trainee candidates have been able to secure jobs in newsrooms six months after being qualified, only 8% of black graduates were able to land jobs in the press.

Credit – Jaydee Dyer

But what progress do you see in the next ten years? “At least now, it is a more prominent discussion than ever before. People just need to eradicate this unconscious bias and make an effort to move things forward. If they do this, then I believe a positive change could happen.

“When I signed for Sky Sports News, I know that some people were saying ‘I don’t get it.’ They were scared that their audience would turn off because I don’t speak the Queen’s English absolutely perfectly and don’t look the same as all other presenters.

“There is more of an element of respect now, though. There was a period of time that they definitely wouldn’t have put me on screen. So, if there is a conscious attempt to make a change, which there is starting to be, and recruitment processes are widened, I believe that a change can and will come.”

Featured photograph/ Jaydee Dyer