The press room at the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most homogenous spaces I have ever been in. Sure, the diversity in language and country of origin are great but the gender and racial demographics of the space aren’t so great. The press room at the Eurovision Song Contest needs more diversity.
With over 1,550 journalists coming from 80 countries— you would think the demographic breakdown of the journalists in the room would be more representative of our global community.
The events of the past year have changed the way that race is discussed in the world and I am wondering what concrete steps the European Broadcasting Union is taking to address this new landscape. The Eurovision Song Contest has long been a pioneer in bringing people together to celebrate unity, culture, music and I’d also add: diversity. However, year after year the press room has remained relatively stagnant.
I believe that there are some concrete steps the EBU can take to be a leader and example. Ultimately, it is about ensuring that the media coverage of the Song Contest remains diverse, sensitive, and fair. Anecdotally, the press room at Eurovision is largely male and even more so White. The EBU has the ability to require and encourage the publications that want press access to demonstrate in their coverage and the makeup of their teams that they truly believe in diversity.
Here are 3 things the EBU can do:
- Reserving a few press and fan accreditation passes for individuals from minority communities.
- Requiring media outlets to have data on their hiring, team structure and the racial and gender makeup of their teams.
- Ensuring that the press team working for the European Broadcasting Union is diverse in gender and race.
Why is this important?
We know that representation matters and we know that implicit bias is real, when there aren’t women and people of color in the room— those perspectives aren’t heard/seen and the coverage isn’t inclusive. For a Song Contest founded on unity— racial and gender diversity should be a core element.
Ultimately, newsrooms across the world are largely male and White, so it is no surprise that this would show up in the press room for the Eurovision Song Contest. But this can change. The steps I’ve laid out are a starting point and I believe would go a long way in mediating the problem.
On December 16, 2020, I reached out to the European Broadcasting Union requesting a full demographic breakdown of the approved accredited media of the past 3 years at the Eurovision Song Contest. In particular, I was curious about the gender and ethnic makeup of the press core for the Song Contest. I followed up on January 11, 2021 and made sure to clarify that if they were not tracking this information to just let me know. They replied shortly after that:
I followed up with them that same day:
I am not seeking personal information for individual folks who have been accredited. I am seeking broad information of gender and racial breakdowns. If this is information you are not collecting, just let me know. Again, I am requesting the gender and ethnic makeup of the accredited press core for the Song Contest.
On January 29, 2021 I reached out again and received no reply.
On March 9, 2021, I followed up and presented them with a letter detailing much of what is in this article and in particular the things they could do. I wrote the letter with the hope that it sparks an internal conversation at the European Broadcasting Union and the planning for an external initiative to mediate this issue will be eventually released and executed. As of March 28, 2021, I’ve received no response.
To be fair, anecdotally, in recent years I’ve noticed that more women have been in the press room. When I compare the look of the press room from 2016 to 2019 there is definitely a difference. This is a good thing, but there is still work to be done.
 The Importance of Representation in Film and Media, Medium: https://medium.com/@Laurenwash/the-importance-of-representation-in-film-and-media-2d006149cac9
 Why on-screen representation matters, according to these teens: PBS Newshour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/why-on-screen-representation-matters-according-to-these-teens;
 How Implicit Bias Works in Journalism, Nieman Reports: https://niemanreports.org/articles/how-implicit-bias-works-in-journalism/
The Difference Between Race and Ethnicity: https://www.verywellmind.com/difference-between-race-and-ethnicity-5074205#:~:text=In%20basic%20terms%2C%20race%20describes,ethnicity%20is%20something%20you%20learn.