Mission statement and submission guidelines

Welcome to Representology - a journal dedicated to research and best-practice perspectives on how to make the media more representative of all sections of society. 

A starting point for effective representation are the “protected characteristics” defined by the Equality Act 2010 including, but not limited to, race, gender, sexuality, and disability, as well as their intersections. We recognise that definitions of diversity and representation are dynamic and constantly evolving and our content will aim to reflect this. 

Representology is a forum where academic researchers and media industry professionals can come together to pool expertise and experience. We seek to create a better understanding of the current barriers to media participation as well as examine and promote the most effective ways to overcome such barriers. We hope the journal will influence policy and practice in the media industry through a rigorous, evidence-based approach.

Our belief is that a more representative media workforce will enrich and improve media output, enabling media organisations to better serve their audiences, and encourage a more pluralistic and inclusive public discourse. This is vital for a healthy society and well-functioning democracy. We look forward to working with everyone who shares this vision.

Editorial

In the wake of Black Lives Matter, many people at the helm of the UK media industry have rightly been critical of its historic failings around diversity – both in its output and in making sure its workforce mirrors the many shades of modern multicultural Britain. But we must remember that this period of self-analysis does not mark a moment – it heralds a movement. In the pages of Representology – the Journal for Media and Diversity – we hope to build connections between the academy, journalists and broadcasters. Rather than seek piecemeal reform to address the underrepresentation of marginalised voices, we wish to go further and help create a media that reflects the richness of every part of society. Launched as a joint initiative between Birmingham City University and Cardiff University (see back page for comments by their Vice-Chancellors), we want to analyse and work with all areas of media production, commissioning new research and opening meaningful conversations on how to dismantle existing barriers to participation. 

This first issue features Sir Lenny Henry and David Olusoga talking frankly about race and stereotyping in the television industry, Charlene White’s thoughts on fusing together current affairs and children's programming for ‘IRL with Team Charlene’, and Dr Peter Block and Emma Butt unveiling their original academic research on the systemic lack of diversity in broadcast regulation and post-production sound recording. We republish Professor Stuart Hall’s ferocious television essay ‘It Ain’t Half Racist, Mum’, discover a treasure trove in the black radio archive, consider cultural depictions of disability and newspaper initiatives to better engage women readers, and navigate the evolving worlds of freelance and political journalism. At the end of each article, you will find a summary of ideas for the industry to act upon.

We are looking to widen the editorial board of Representology (see back page for full list) as well as our pool of writers. If you are interested in contributing to this developing project or have feedback and suggestions for future issues, please get in touch: Reprezentology@bcu.ac.uk 

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we are delighted to be working with our wonderful Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry, and our friends at Cardiff University in launching Representology. 2020 has taught us a lot, not least that achieving and celebrating racial equality is long overdue.

As Lenny often says about his own career: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” It’s a hugely valuable principle in holding our own performance up to the light – both in terms of our own organisation, but also the way in which we deploy our expertise. We were founded in 1843 as a School of Design and that creative arts’ heritage remains central to our university.  And with over 50% of our students drawn from Black and Asian backgrounds across our city and our region, addressing racial imbalance in the arts has to be a key priority for us. This fresh and exciting journal was founded following discussions between BCU and Cardiff around the launch of a new research centre dedicated to analysing diversity and representation across all forms of media. In March this year, BCU in collaboration with our Chancellor launched the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity.  

The Centre believes that accurate representation of all sections of society in all layers of the UK media is vital for the health of the industry. This is crucial in ensuring a functioning democracy and enabling critical human rights issues, such as freedom of expression, to be truly implemented. The Centre aims to critically analyse policies in the media industry with a view to increasing diversity and inclusion, improving policy decisions and spreading best practice. 

Inspired by the ethos of the Centre, Representology was born, giving a platform for discussions, research and insights into representation and equality across the sector. The collaborative nature of the project encapsulates the more holistic approach to tackling the problem of diversity in the media. Information, answers and fresh thinking don't belong solely to academia or the media industry.  So the journal has articles and research from both. In the launch edition, for example, there's an original piece of research conducted by a professional sound editor, mentored by an academic at our university.

Vice-Chancellor of BCU, Philip Plowden says: "BCU and Cardiff are passionately committed to making Representology available to a wide readership, so the emphasis is jointly on accuracy and accessibility. Written in plain language, and free to download, we want to open up this conversation to those who are best placed to inform real change. Universities are a vehicle to enable transformation, and as such, it is our duty and our passion to actively promote social progress through learning, research, innovation and collaboration."  

Cardiff University

As is the case in many areas of society, the mainstream media often inadequately represent the diversity of the society they purport to reflect. Power structures, financial models and appointments to influential management and editorial positions all can and do militate against a representative media industry.

Representology aims to do something about that. Its guiding principles are an excellent model for all writers to follow, not just contributors to the new journal. In an era of profound public mistrust of public information — some of the mistrust well-founded, some of it not — using simple, accessible language to reach as wide an audience as possible and attracting writers of proven expertise who use facts and evidence to start a debate or bring a fresh perspective is more important than ever.

The central guiding principle of embracing diversity in all its forms and in everything the journal does is of the utmost importance. In universities, diversity brings creativity, new knowledge, new perspectives and, ultimately, new discoveries and fresh thinking. Diversity is nothing less than the driving force of knowledge creation, and new knowledge counts for little if it is not disseminated. Representology, then, captures the essence of what is required to take society forward and make the world a better place.

Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor Colin Riordan says: "It’s an honour to be able to partner with Birmingham City University in supporting and launching a new journal that tackles such an important topic. Bringing together a group of academics with a shared passion for diversity in the media, Representology marks a welcome new departure which, it is hoped, will find wider resonance throughout our academic disciplines.

"This is a groundbreaking project that will celebrate and enrich the cultural industry as a whole, and will give a broader-based platform to a wider range of voices and views than we have seen up to now. In this way, Representology addresses a problem that affects not only the media, but all of us, at a time when change is urgently needed."

Submission Guidelines

Article ideas should be submitted to Representology@bcu.ac.uk

Please include a two-line biography, including relevant links to past published work. Academic pieces will be reviewed by relevant experts and assessed by the editorial board. 

Representology seeks to publish pieces from both academics and media practitioners, exploring complex issues in an accessible way. Before submitting anything for consideration, be sure you are familiar with our mission statement and guiding principles. 

  • Commissioned journalism pieces should be between 500 and 2500 words
  • Commissioned academic pieces should be between 4000 and 8000 words

If we are interested in your pitch, we will contact you. Our editorial team is small, and it may take up to a month to receive a reply. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to every submission. If you do not hear from us within a month, please assume that we have decided not to pursue your proposal this time. That does not mean we don’t want to hear from you again in the future.

Articles are read on the understanding that they are solely submitted to Representology. Published articles will receive a modest honorarium.

Five Guiding Principles For Contributions

1. Clear language

Making content as widely accessible as possible, writing should be clear, concise and engaging.

2. Expertise

Contributors are expected to write on subjects for which they have proven expertise.

3. Supported by facts

Articles should be supported by verifiable facts and research-based evidence.

4. Refresh debate

Submissions should seek to enrich current debates or create new ones.

5. Diversity of perspectives

Preference will be given to writers seeking to widen representation and outline new perspectives.