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Foreign journalists can write in English, thank you very much

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The NCTJ released their annual report on Diversity within Journalism last week and, beyond the obvious diversity issues in our industry, one throw-away comment caught my eye. According to the report, “a lower proportion [of working journalists] from the EU than for all UK workers” could “perhaps” be explained by “English language barriers”.

Now, as a French journalist working in the UK, I know that language is the main tool for journalists to tell their stories. Perfect command of the language is required to properly report on issues. Reducing this problem of access to the industry to language barriers. however, is both misguided and a symptom of the already well-known broader diversity problem in the media.

While the issues faced by EU citizens are varied, partly due to the fact we are not a homogeneous group, some of the lived experiences I collected depict a clear trend.

Language barriers

Before going any further, however, one thing needs to be made clear: EU citizens have an excellent command of English. The 2021 EF report shows that most European countries are performing at the highest levels of English proficiency. It may be our second - or third - language, but EU journalists prove to be as good a group of writers and reporters as British ones.

Daniella Theis, a German-born journalist now a community reporter at the Greenock Telegraph in Scotland, feels frustrated by the assumptions made about the English-language skills of EU citizens working in the media. “For many, the barrier doesn’t exist. My English isn’t perfect all of the time, but neither is the English of people who are from........

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