Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are bringing attention to issues they believe in by supporting those who stand up to injustice and calling out the “underrepresentation, inequity and racial bigotry” that exist in the media.
In a post published on their Archewell foundation website last week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex expressed their public support for journalists looking to hold the Society of Editors (SoE) in the United Kingdom accountable, months after the organization claimed that the U.K. media is “most certainly not racist.” The SoE is a group of about 400 senior members of the media in the U.K.
The SoE’s original denial of racism was in response to Harry and Meghan’s wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, when the royals spoke about their persistent struggles with “bigoted” British tabloids.
“Archewell is a proud supporter of journalistic diversity and news media organizations that are committed to reporting the truth, uncovering untold stories and giving voice to the voiceless,” a statement on the couple’s website read.
The Sussexes said they “applaud the work of independent media, nonprofit newsrooms and trusted local news collectives,” as they “demonstrate the deep need for this critical profession to thrive and evolve, particularly in terms of racial equity and representation in newsgathering and newsrooms.”
“For these reasons, we are seeking to bring awareness to a coalition of U.K. journalists calling for stronger initiatives to combat the underrepresentation, inequity and racial bigotry that still persist in this important industry,” the statement continued before linking to an open letter that more than 100 journalists wrote to the SoE and posted on Medium in July.
The open letter slammed the society for not showing a “genuine commitment to atoning for its insulting and ham-fisted blanket denial of racism” in March. It also called on the organization to retract its original statement.
“Without admitting that racism exists and retracting their previous missive, the Society of Editors are denying the lived experiences of journalists of colour as well as those who have had unfavourable media coverage purely because of the colour of their skin,” the letter said.
Dawn Alford, the executive director of the SoE, did not comment on the Sussexes’ public support of the journalists when reached by HuffPost, but she addressed the group’s open letter.
“I, as the new Executive Director of the Society of Editors, take very seriously the points they raise,” Alford said over email on Tuesday, adding that she plans to meet with representatives of the group on Thursday to discuss “ways we can move forward and support diversity and inclusion within our industry.”
“My personal feelings are that there is not the diversity in our industry that we would like to see and we, the Society of Editors, will robustly play our part in helping improve that over the coming months, and years, on behalf of our members,” Alford said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have both had complex relationships with the press over the years (and in Harry’s case, for most of his entire life). Meghan specifically has been the subject of persistent racist and misogynistic coverage since she was first linked to Harry in 2016.
The couple most recently called out the “bigoted press” during their interview with Winfrey, in which they also said that they left the U.K. largely because of racism.
When Meghan and Harry announced their intentions to step back as working members of the royal family in January 2020, they laid out how they planned to work with certain members of the media. They also shared that they would no longer work with the Royal Rota, a group of journalists from British media outlets that cover the royals.
Last week, the Duke of Sussex announced his own plans to take back his narrative, revealing that he is releasing a memoir in 2022. In a statement shared with HuffPost, the royal said he is “excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”
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