For the latest episode of the Reimagination at Work podcast, we spoke to Hardeep Mathuru, Editor of Byline Times, about representation of minority voices in the media. Before you listen to the discussion between Hardeep and our own Mo Kanjilal, learn more about Hardeep’s story and how Byline Times came to be.
Hardeep Mathuru started out studying law, but through that work she found that her real calling was to be outside of the system; to be an observer and an analyst of what was happening. She found that law was interesting, but very black and white, and she was interested in human behaviour, which is far more shades of grey. So Hardeep decided to explore that further, which led her to pursue a career in journalism.
For Hardeep, this choice was met with worry and fear from her parents. As immigrants from India, the careers her parents knew and understood were things like medicine, engineering, law… careers like journalism, writing and the media were viewed with suspicion and fear. Immigrants like Hardeep’s parents, and my own, faced racism and intense struggles in order to build a life in the UK. They wanted their children to have a better, and easier, life through secure careers.
Undeterred, Hardeep started in regional and mainstream journalism, learning her craft, until she met Peter Jukes and Stephen Colgrave and together they started Byline Times. They pride themselves on standing outside of the establishment media. They are about analytical journalism, finding the truth behind the headlines, and telling us all ‘What The Papers Don’t Say’. Since Byline Times was established, the team have been keen to provide a voice, and a platform, to those who have something to say. They fill a gap in our media cycle with news you don’t find in the mainstream media.
Hardeep is passionate about helping more women and people of colour to make their voices heard. She thinks a lot of the problems of misrepresentation in the media are a result of not having enough diverse voices in the profession of journalism. That different people, with different lived experiences, are what’s needed. The ‘Our Lives Matter’ series, launched this summer, gives new journalists a platform to speak their truth. The series covers subjects like ‘generational fear,’ which Hardeep understands so well, having experienced it herself.
Online abuse is something that goes with the territory of having a high profile on platforms like Twitter, and Hardeep was prepared for the trolling, which she sees as attempts to shut down what they’re trying to do. Although it never stops being difficult. But the positive sides to being able to increase their reach and connect with a wider audience mean that they won’t be pushed off these platforms by the trolls.
For a news site that launched relatively recently, they already have an impressive following, and the newly established Byline TV is seeing subscriber numbers growing daily. They have inspired the launch of several regional Bylines sites around the country to give citizens a voice. Hardeep sees the Byline network as a place where writers can gain exposure and build their careers.
They have even experienced trending on Twitter! One of their stories, about Boris Johnson’s lack of interest in acting as Prime Minister, sent Twitter on fire one weekend. The mainstream media are staring to notice them, with a story or two being used in established news platforms (although often without citing them). They see their impact growing as more people become aware of them. Hardeep is proud of their role in properly scrutinising what is happening in the UK and beyond, making up for the gaps in the mainstream media. They examine unreported issues, unreported voices and ignored angles.
Listen to the latest episode of the Reimagination At Work podcast to hear Hardeep’s story, thoughts and ideas.