As reported by The Independent, the head of the journalism trade body the Society of Editors stepped down after Meghan Markle and Harry’s explosive tell-all interview.

The Society of Editors reportedly “came fire for its response to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s accusations of racism”. Here’s what you need to know.

Society of Editors’ Press Awards under fire

The resignation follows after ITV News presenter Charlene White said she would not host the Society of Editors’ Press Awards. Other outlets threatened to withdraw from the event as well.

White said she only works with “organisations who practise what they preach”, and her time is precious, so she’d “rather not waste it”. She explained:

“Since the Black Lives Matter movement really took hold in the UK last year, every single institution in this country has had to finally look at its failings and its position in terms of how they treat ethnic minorities both inside and outside of its walls. But for some unknown reason, you feel as though the UK press is exempt in that discussion”.

White then suggested it would be better for the society to “look elsewhere for a host”. In addition, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said the society’s statement “shows a lack of awareness”.

Backlash following Markle’s interview

Other organisations followed suit. Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson said as a white man, he is “woefully short on credentials to bring to this fight” but explained that his skin colour won’t prevent him from learning.

“I will be damned if the colour of my skin and my perceived social status is going to prevent me from listening, learning, bettering myself and my workplace”.

Piers Morgan, who said on his daily show that he didn’t believe Markle’s claims of being suicidal, also stepped down as show host after Markle filed a formal complaint with ITV.

According to The Guardian, Markle contacted ITV over Morgan’s insensitivity towards mental health and how his comments could affect the conversation around the topic in the UK.

Society of Editors response to Markle’s interview

Shortly after Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey – during which they cited numerous racist incidents from the royal family and media – the Society of Editors said:

“The UK media is not bigoted and will not be swayed from its vital role holding the rich and powerful to account”.

When the society received backlash for its comment, the body said it was defending freedom of speech, but acknowledged that their statement “didn’t reflect what we all know, that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion”.

Editor steps down ‘with heavy heart’

The executive director, Ian Murray accepted the blame and stepped down, albeit “with a heavy heart” as he is proud of the society’s work in defending media freedom.

He explained that it was not his intention “to gloss over the fact the media industry in the UK does have work to do” with regards to inclusivity and diversity.

“While I do not agree that the society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset”.

Now read: Prince William and Kate in ‘total shock’

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Presh JM Reporter

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