Society of Editors: Retract your damaging & false dismissal of any racism in the press

Hacked Off and several leading anti-racism NGOs have written to the Society of Editors, calling on them to retract their claim that the press is “not racist”.


The Society’s wholesale denial of racism in the press came after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle criticised racism in some parts of the press in their interview with Oprah Winfrey over the weekend.


Read the letter in full below:


We were deeply concerned to see the Society deny the presence of any bigotry or racism in any parts of the “edited or regulated” press in a statement issued on 8th March 2021, and urge you to retract this statement.

In your statement[1], issued in response to allegations of press racism made by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their interview with Oprah Winfrey, the following remarks were made:

“The UK media is not bigoted”

“It [is] untrue that sections of the UK press [are] bigoted”

“The press is most certainly not racist”

This statement was issued without any suggestion of an investigation into the concerns raised by the Duke and Duchess.  Racism affects all aspects of society and the press is not immune from this.

On the contrary, there are many examples (see the attached) of racist and prejudiced reporting in national newspapers.

We consider that the Society’s wholesale denial of racism in the press damages the fight against prejudice within the industry and must be withdrawn immediately.

Further, the Society’s statement entails the casual dismissal of a woman of colour’s complaint of racism, and account of the serious impact it had on her mental health.  It is totally unacceptable for that complaint to be rejected out of hand, by an organisation which claims to represent the media industry.

We urge the Society to withdraw this statement and disassociate itself from the remarks therein.


Yours sincerely,


Hacked Off

Compassion in Politics

The Traveller Movement


Race on the Agenda


Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign

Sum of Us

Professor Chris Frost, the Chair of the NUJ’s Ethics Council

Muslim Council of Britain’s Centre for Media Monitoring

The Runnymede Trust




Some examples of prejudiced reporting in the press


  1. The MailOnline refers to Meghan Markle as “(almost) straight outta Compton”:


  1. The MailOnline refers to Meghan Markle’s “rich, exotic DNA”:


  1. Evidence of double standards between Meghan and her white counterpart, Kate Middleton:


More general examples:


  1. The Sun refers to mirgants as “like cockroaches”:


  1. The Sun uses a phrase used by the Nazi Party to attack Muslims:


  1. The Daily Mail’s cartoon referred to Muslims as rats:


Racist sentiment in the media has even resulted in international organisations criticising the UK press:


  1. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

UN rights chief urges UK to curb tabloid hate speech, end ‘decades of abuse’ targeting migrants


  1. European Commission against Racism and Intolerance:

“ECRI considers that hate speech in some traditional media continues to be a

serious problem”

Page 18:


Many more examples exist.



1 Comment

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Neil Macdonaldreply
March 12, 2021 at 10:04 am

I can never forget seeing the compilation of Daily Mail front page articles in the year leading up to the EU Referendum which mentioned asylum seekers, refugees, foreigners and the like. They stoked the fires of bigotry and hate and won that referendum.

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