Reimagining the Welsh Media
A Case for Inclusion, Diversity,
and Local Reporting
11 May 2023
James Bessant Davies
BA (Hons) Press & Editorial Photography
Falmouth University
PEP214Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
BA (Hons) Press & Editorial Photography
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Date 11/05/2023Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local
This study builds upon previous research by scholars and practitioners such as the Bureau
of Investigative Journalism’s Shirish Kulkarni and the Institute of Welsh Affairs' Dylan Moore,
examining the critical issue of English-language media decline and its effects on democracy
in Wales. The essay discusses the threats that retreating local journalism has on Welsh
identity, and asks how the voices of all communities in Wales can be represented by the
media. The creation of an ‘Independent Broadcasting Authority for Wales’ is also discussed,
although the primary focus of this essay is print media.
The research methodology combines qualitative interviews with key figures in the Welsh
media landscape, including Dylan Moore, Owen Davies, Shirish Kulkarni, and Dr. Rachel
Morris, along with a comprehensive literature review of existing academic work and relevant
industry reports. Initiatives such as ‘Inclusive Journalism Cymru’ and ‘Bylines.Cymru’ are
discussed. A potential limitation of the study is the relatively small sample of interviewees,
which may not fully represent the diversity of perspectives within the industry.
The key findings suggest an urgent need for quality local journalism in Wales, with the
absence of such media creating potential spaces for misinformation and disengagement
from society. The Welsh public is forced to turn to UK-wide media sources, who in turn do
little to represent the complexities of Welsh culture. Furthermore, the research reveals an
lack of diversity and inclusivity within the industry, and the potential of independent media
initiatives and citizen journalism in addressing these challenges. The transformation of the
media landscape in Wales requires concerted effort, innovative thinking, and a commitment
to serving the diverse needs of the Welsh public.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Abstract ...................................................................................................................................... 2
Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 4
Literature Review ....................................................................................................................... 6
Local and national reporting in Wales.................................................................................... 6
The question of culture, identity and devolution .................................................................... 7
Diversity and inclusion ......................................................................................................... 10
Methodology............................................................................................................................. 12
Analysis, Findings and Discussion .......................................................................................... 14
Conclusion ............................................................................................................................... 18
Appendices .............................................................................................................................. 20
Appendix A - Interview with Dylan Moore ............................................................................ 20
Appendix B - Interview with Owen Davies ........................................................................... 38
Appendix C - Interview with Shirish Kulkarni ....................................................................... 48
Appendix D - Interview with Dr Rachel Morris ..................................................................... 53
Bibliography ............................................................................................................................. 64
Further Reading ....................................................................................................................... 67Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
In the twenty years of my life, I have seen vast changes within the media landscape of
Wales. Now is a critical time for the industry as it grapples with declining readership and
limited engagement from the Welsh public. In a 2021 study, the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh
Language and Communications Committee concluded that “The supply of media content for
Wales is inadequate”, raising news as an area that particularly needs addressing.
This paper attempts to provide an overview of the current English-language media
landscape of Wales, discussing the challenges faced by traditional news providers, and
highlighting the inherent need for diversity and inclusion to represent all communities of
Welsh society. Despite the need to talk about current failings, I hope that this will not be a
negative paper, rather, it will discuss the views and initiatives of individuals trying to effect
change within the industry to create a better Wales.
I come to this question from a typically Welsh angle. I was born near Llanwrtyd Wells, a
bastion of blinkered sheep and cattle farmers in what was romantically termed Y Fro
Gymraeg, the Welsh Heartlands, by Welsh linguistic and cultural movements in the 1970s
and 1980s. My relationship with the outside world was formed from a trickle of news
received at school, and from what my parents deemed suitable to tell me. My father took the
Brecon and Radnor Express on a twice-monthly basis, a local rag which was flourishing
following its takeover by Tindle Newspapers in the early 1990s. With a handful of dedicated
reporters, the paper offered comprehensive coverage of local politics, disputes and events in
the south Powys area- a majority blue constituency. There was rarely a week that you
couldn’t open the paper and see a photograph of someone you knew, or indeed, were
related to. This sense of community extended beyond the printed pages, with local gossip
and discussions taking place in the back bar of the Neuadd Arms. Here it mixed with
speculation over landownership, scandalous affairs and tolerated scepticism of ‘people from
off’. For me as a child I had little awareness, if any, of global life outside this inward-lookingReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
community. At the age of 7 I won some minor prize in Llanwrtyd’s annual Eisteddfod, and I
was pictured holding a cup with a handful of other children outside the town hall. When this
image was included a week later in the Brecon and Radnor, I was not only convinced of my
fame, but that the whole world knew who I was.
Looking back, this sense of pride wasn’t completely unfounded. To many, the Brecon and
Radnor was both prestigious and wide-reaching. It provided a comprehensive directory of
businesses, informed the community about deaths and marriages, and offered insights into
the decisions made in the Senedd, as well as the actions of local AMs and MPs. The paper
not only facilitated informed voting choices during local elections but also encouraged active
participation in public discourse. For mid-Wales, the Brecon and Radnor was a vital piece of
infrastructure that provided an effective way of engaging the Welsh public in Welsh public
Over the years, the Brecon and Radnor Express has evolved and adapted with the changing
media landscape. The print edition's circulation has significantly declined, leading to an
increased focus on digital reporting. With only two full-time staff members switching between
reporting, editing, and multimedia roles, the paper's scope and capacity has undoubtedly
been affected. Despite this, the very fact that the Brecon and Radnor continues to publish a
regular print edition can be considered a success. In the past 20 years many local Welsh
newspapers have been forced to close, or move to digital only platforms, such as the
Abergavenny Chronicle and Caerphilly Observer.
As the digital world firms its hold on everyday life, physical papers are in retreat from homes
across the country, a movement that has only been exasperated with the ongoing effects of
the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, as a result of this, quality local reporting is retreating from
Welsh communities, and with it fades scrutiny of local government, and readily available
forums for open public discourse. Local communities are not being served, and many
minority groups feel underrepresented. In the past couple of years there has been
momentum to develop current media infrastructure, but change so far is limited.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Literature Review
Local and national reporting in Wales
Unlike the news landscape of Scotland, where the Scotsman and the Herald of Scotland
(among many others) provide high quality news content to the entire nation, Wales lacks a
national newspaper that covers all areas of the country. Like Wales, Scotland has been
suffering from shrinking readership of publications in recent years. A process was put in
place in 2020 to rejuvenate the industry. A 2021 report submitted to the Scottish Parliament
stressed the importance of preserving a 200-300 year tradition of high-quality national
reporting. (Scottish Government) The difference in Wales is that this tradition has never
been established. (Moore, Appendix A) Historically, Wales has had two main papers, the
Western Mail in the South, and the Daily Post in the North. These are both owned by Reach
PLC, an industry giant whose newsrooms are in Canary Wharf, London. Reach PLC also
owns Wales’ only Sunday newspaper, Wales on Sunday. (Hughes: 249) Ownership aside,
ABC circulation figures show that readership of both papers has shrunk by over three
quarters in the past decade, and now people turn predominantly to UK-wide media
corporations for their news. (Donovan 2019) BBC One, ITV Wales and Sky News, along with
Facebook and Instagram are the top five news sources used by Welsh People. (Ofcom
2022) Comparatively, The Daily Mail and The Sun are the only traditional newspapers with a
significant portion of the total audience share. (Moore 2022)
The fact that the Welsh public is turning to UK-wide media corporations for their news
doesn’t mean that the need for local news and newspapers has diminished. On the contrary-
the same Ofcom report found that local news remains important to the people in Wales, with
83% of respondents saying that they are ‘very’ or ‘quite’ interested about news dedicated to
their nation. (Ofcom 2022) Within the pages of London’s papers, the sources that the Welsh
public are forced to turn to, there is a marked side-lining of Welsh news and affairs. In
broadcast media, Scottish content is much more front and centre than that of Wales, whichReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
has a tendency to be treated as an insignificant region of England by London based media.
As America sees the UK as London-centric, London’s view of the UK remains stubbornly
focused on the south of England.
The politically liberal, Manchester-based Guardian provides a good case-study. The
Guardian are unique amongst UK media as they employ a Welsh correspondent. The
Guardian’s Welsh Correspondent is Steve Morris. Without discrediting any of the work that
Steve does, he lives in Bristol- outside of Wales. (Moore, Appendix A) Due to the vast
geographical expanse that Wales covers, and the multitude of communities that lie within, it
is impossible for one man to gather in-depth stories from Narbeth in Pembrokeshire,
Aberporth in Ceredigion and Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia simultaneously. This is
reflected in the ‘Wales’ page of the Guardian Online, where typically 5-6 articles are written
per week. Breaking this down further, the majority of these articles come from Cardiff and
the Valleys. (Guardian 2023)
The words of Welsh journalist and commentator Shirish Kulkarni provide an appropriate
summary of this section: “The people of Wales are crying out for journalism that reflects and
responds to them in a way that the London media simply can’t and won’t.” (2021)
The question of culture, identity and devolution
A decline in Welsh media and of local newspapers goes hand in hand with a decline in the
representation of Welsh identity. Present is the risk that the distinctiveness of Welsh culture,
its history and its national identity may be lost or diluted in this broader UK media landscape.
Critically the Welsh language, for which many people have fought so hard, may be at risk.
Local papers traditionally played a vital role in preserving and promoting Welsh identity,
providing in-depth coverage of local politics, cultural events, and celebrating the unique
aspects of Welsh life. They have acted as a platform for Welsh voices, fostering a sense of
belonging and pride among their readership. In a world of increased globality, flooded withReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
digital media and global news platforms, it becomes even more crucial to preserve and
promote the distinctive culture and identity of our nation.
The Welsh language activist group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg says that the lack of
broadcasting and Welsh media is “harmful to democracy”, citing a study they conducted
which demonstrated that less than half of the Welsh public knew that the Welsh government
is responsible for the NHS in Wales. (2018)
Cymdeithas has a history of campaigning for dedicated platforms for Welsh news and
discourse. In 1970, their policy booklet 'Broadcasting in Wales' was published, which called
for an ‘Independent Broadcasting Authority for Wales' with 'complete authority over
broadcasting in Wales'. Under this, they campaigned for a Welsh-language radio station and
a Welsh-language television channel to be established. Both aims were finally achieved over
decade later, with the creation of Radio Cymru in 1977, and later the Welsh-language
television channel S4C in 1982. In addition, the booklet called for an English language
television channel dedicated for solely Welsh programming, as Cymdeithas, alongside many
members of the Welsh public were dissatisfied with existing Welsh representation on
mainstream platforms. Cymdeithas never got this wish. (2017: 3)
In 2018, ITV Wales’ broadcast hours of Welsh interest programmes had dropped to just 1.5
hours a week, and the BBC’s expenditure on Welsh interest programmes in English has
fallen over the past decade, despite similar expenditure on Scottish interest programmes
increasing. (Cymdeithas 2018)
In 2013, the Silk Commission, a cross-party committee established by the UK Government
asked the people of Wales whether they were in favour of devolving broadcasting in its
entirety to the Welsh Government. Of those that answered, 60% were in fully in favour of the
proposal. In response, the Commission recommended devolving the Government grant for
the S4C to the Welsh government. (Commission on Devolution in Wales, 2014: 95) Despite
the absurdity and apparent pettiness of Westminster holding onto a relatively small pot ofReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
money detected solely to Welsh-language media, the UK government has refused to
implement the Commission’s recommendation.
In spite of the change effected by Cymdeithas yr Iath’s 1970s lobbying, their original aim of
an ‘Independent Broadcasting Authority for Wales’ was never met. In 2017, Cymdeithas yr
Iath published “Broadcasting in Wales II: A case for devolving broadcasting in Wales”,
revisiting their 1970’s proposal of establishing an ‘Independent Broadcasting Authority for
. This would be named ‘Awdurdod Darlledu i Gymru’, and Cymdeithas state that it
would “enable the expansion and normalisation of Welsh on all platforms”
, with dedicated
forums for Welsh and English discussion on Welsh affairs. (2017: 19) The report takes a
cultural approach, comparing Wales to Basque Country and Catalonia where the devolution
of broadcasting has been used to benefit their respective cultures and languages.
Furthermore, Cymdeithas argues that devolution would give Wales a ‘democracy boost’,
“ensuring that our democratic processes are the subject of stronger scrutiny and attention”
(2017: 19)
Momentum for devolution of Wales’ media increased following Cymdeithas’ paper, and the
matter was raised in the Welsh Senedd on a number of occasions. In 2021, the Culture,
Welsh Language and Communications Committee (CWLCC) wrote a discussion paper
looking at the possibility of devolution, asking ‘How can Wales get the media it needs?’. The
first paragraph, written by committee chair Bethan Sayed MS, is striking:
“The supply of media content for Wales is inadequate. We don’t have the
provision of news and current affairs that Wales needs, hampering the
political and civic life of our country. Other areas – such as children’s
content, comedy and drama – are also underrepresented, meaning we do
not see ourselves reflected on our screens. Wales needs more power over
broadcasting, to ensure that we can develop the media we need as a
nation.” (2021: 5)
In conjunction with this, the Institute of Welsh Affairs released their report: Media Priorities
for the next Senedd. The report describes Wales as “unique in being a nation which cannot
control its own public service media.” (2021: 5) The IWA’s approach towards devolution isReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
more cautious than that of the CWLCC, describing it as a ‘process’, not an ‘event’, and
rejecting the notion that “nothing in this field should be devolved unless everything is
. (2021: 5) It did however recommend the creation of a new forum to discuss
further devolution of the press in Wales. This ran alongside further recommendations that
included the establishment of a media development fund, support for independent
journalism, and the promotion of media literacy and digital skills.
In response, the Welsh Government established an advisory panel formed of politicians and
key figures within the industry to discuss the recommendations proposed by the CWLCC
and the IWA, and look towards further possibility of devolution. (2022) Findings of the panel
are yet to be published, but its creation is a momentous step forward for Welsh media.
Designated Member Cefin Campbell said:
Establishing a broadcasting and communications authority in our country
that can protect, diversify, and enhance our local and national public
service platforms will be a crucial step forward. A vibrant local and national
media is crucial for reflecting the tapestry of life right across the nation –
debating, informing, and celebrating all our cultures and communities.
(quoted in Welsh Parliament 2022)
Diversity and inclusion
A common theme in all the sources discussed is a lack of plurality and diversity within the
Welsh press. To enable the creation of inclusive and accessible platforms, it is essential that
space is given to the multifaceted voices of all communities within Wales. Media should
mirror the society it serves, accurately reflecting the range of voices, cultures, and
experiences that make up modern Wales. A lack of diversity can lead to certain groups being
underrepresented or misrepresented, impacting how different communities perceive
themselves and each other. Shirish Kulkarni is a prominent Welsh-Indian journalist and
researcher, whose work emphasises the importance of building a different kind of journalism
in Wales that embraces diversity and inclusion. In an opinion article that Kulkarni wrote for
The Welsh Agenda, he states that “Simply put, too often the wrong stories are being told theReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
wrong way by the wrong people. Wales has particular issues with inclusion, and the Welsh
media simply doesn’t represent the views and diversity of Welsh society.” (2021)
Kevin Bakhurst, a spokesperson for Ofcom noted: “One of the really important things where
we’ve said the BBC needs to do better is about representing and portraying the peoples of
the United Kingdom, and also to the rest of the United Kingdom and to themselves. We
know, from our research about audiences in Wales, that that’s one area in particular that the
audience in Wales thinks the BBC needs to do a bit better on.” (quoted in Welsh Parliament
2021: 15-16)
Considering the remit of IWA’s Media Priorities report, it is surprising how little weight was
given to the importance of inclusion in the sector. It is addressed briefly in the third
recommendation of the report, which petitions the Welsh government to “make Creative
Wales the home for an ambitious strategy for a thriving media economy, which tells stories
of Welsh life in all its diversity”. (2021: 1) The report contains no specific guidelines on how
this will realistically look going into the future.
Recently a number of initiatives have started by individuals who feel frustrated by lack of
representation by the media. Some of these were enabled with the help of Welsh
Government funding, and some were privately fundraised for via platforms such as
Kickstarter. ‘Inclusive Journalism Cymru’ and ‘The Paper’ are two such initiatives that are
discussed in further detail in the Analysis, Findings and Discussion section. These initiatives
are all fantastic, but the fact that our current infrastructure necessitates them should be a
cause for reflection.
So much more could and should be done to ensure that all voices are represented in the
Welsh media. The path towards diversity and inclusion within the industry requires sustained
efforts and commitment from media organisations, journalists, policymakers, and the public.
To truly serve its purpose, the Welsh media must try to reflect the nation it serves - in all its
diverse and vibrant colours.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
This essay uses a mix of primary and secondary research methods to provide an overview
of the current media landscape of Wales, and to explore the engagement of the Welsh public
in Welsh public affairs. Due to the limited number of publications dealing with this matter, the
majority of my secondary research consists of online articles by respected Welsh
commentators, and reports such as the Ofcom media consumption survey for Wales. These
were chosen based on their relevance to the topic at hand and the credibility of the authors.
This lack of readily available discourse prompted me to conduct a series of specialist
interview with key figures in, or connected to Welsh media, in an attempt to gather a truer
picture of the major challenges faced by the industry, and to look towards existing schemes
and future strategies for improvement. Theses interviews were semi-structured, with a set of
partially predetermined questions that allowed for further exploration of the interviewee's
opinions and experiences. (Bryman 2012: 471)
The approach I followed was primarily that of an interpretivist; seeking to understand and
interpret the subjective experiences and perspectives of my interviewees. This qualitative
approach attempts to recognise the complexity of individual experience, trying to understand
the importance of context in shaping perceptions and the meanings that people attribute to
their experiences. (Schwandt 1994: 118) During this study, I allowed both my own
experiences and those of my interviewees to guide the direction of the research. The
limitations of this approach include the possibility of bias, and that the semi-structured nature
of the interviews may limit the participants’ responses. Additionally, the specific experiences
of the participants may limit the generalisability of the findings.
I want this essay to be a collation of evidence from the industry, and to include the voices of
those effecting change and reconstruction. Within the Analysis, Findings and Discussion
section of this essay it is my intention to take a step back, giving space for these voices toReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
come through – it is my hope that this interpretivist approach will provide an in-depth and
personal understanding of issues faced by the Welsh media industry.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Analysis, Findings and Discussion
The first interview I conducted was with Dylan Moore, a prominent member of the Institute of
Welsh Affairs, and a commentator on the Welsh media who contributes to current discourse
surrounding devolution. I met with Dylan at a coffee shop in Cardiff Bay, and a transcription
of our conversation can be found in Annexe A. We had a conversation surrounding the
failings of the Welsh press, devolution, and Wales’ need for a high quality of local journalism.
The conversation started with the need for reliable and local journalism in Wales. Dylan
recognised that this is currently an issue, underscoring the potential threat of misinformation
and disinformation that can fill the gaps when quality news is absent:
When you get these gaps in good information and good news, you get this
sort of patchy information climate, which then allows misinformation and
disinformation... that often leads to a kind of alienation, frustration, and,
ultimately, disengagement from society (Appendix A).
This resonates with UK-wide study by Plum Consulting for the Department of Digital,
Culture, Media & Sport. The study demonstrated that a lack of local reporting directly
influenced voter turnout by as much as 1.27 percentage points, and that “the closure of local
and regional news titles has led to underreporting and less scrutiny of democratic functions”.
(2020: 5-7) As noted above, there are other noticeable effects of when local newspapers
recedes from communities. In the past five years, the momentum of YesCymru’s
independence movement has gained considerable traction, fuelled with frustration at
Westminster. (Nation.Cymru: 2020) Many felt forgotten by an apathetic UK government, and
the underrepresentation of the Welsh public by UK-wide media is thought to have
contributed to this movement. Interestingly, Dylan thought that the reluctance of the UK
government to devolve more broadcasting powers to the Senedd could be connected to this:
…potentially one of the reasons why there is some pushback against the idea of a
strengthening of the Welsh media is that the more we grow out our own separate
civic sphere, the more conversation that might be focussed around independence,
the more potential for damage. Whether independence is a good thing should be
debated. And there should be space and a forum for that debate. (Appendix A)Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Within this essay there has been a focus on print journalism, but because of the nature of
the industry in its current form, both print journalism and broadcasting are blurring into hybrid
digital forms, a move that is a major factor in the decline in print newspapers. I asked Dylan
whether he thought physical newspapers should still have a role in Welsh life, and if instead
of saving them, whether he thought we should find different and progressive solutions.
…if we're talking about news as a public service, actually, if you're serving
people, you should be asking them. How, how do you want to receive your
news: for some people that might be analogue television, others it might
be digital TV, others it might be newspapers, others it might be on their
phone. But we've got to ensure that good information is able to reach
people where they are. (Appendix A)
The role of government in supporting the media industry, particularly in light of the shift to
digital platforms, is also highlighted. Moore argues for the necessity of government
intervention to ensure the flow of good information, equating the significance of public
interest journalism to other essential utilities like water and electricity (Appendix A: para 15).
Yet, it is also acknowledged that relying on government funding for startups might create a
patchwork media landscape, not providing the comprehensive and consistent coverage
necessary for an informed citizenry.
An example of such a startup is ‘the Paper’ a magazine aimed at young, underrepresented
Welsh demographics, offering a fresh perspective on the need for diversity in the media. I
spoke to Owen Davies, a postgraduate student at Cardiff University and founder of 'The
Paper. (see Appendix B) ‘The Paper’ is described on their website as “100+ pages of
pictures and words by short, fat, genetically worse-off people.” (2021) Established via a
Kickstarter fundraiser, Owen’s endeavour is a testament to the rising trend of independent
media initiatives aimed at filling gaps left by mainstream outlets. (Appendix B)
The next conversation was with Shirish Kulkarni, the founder of Inclusive Journalism Cymru,
and member of the Senedd’s expert panel on devolution. I asked Kulkarni to describe his
experiences working with the group, and his reasoning behind the formation of IJC. TheseReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
experiences offer a poignant view on the lack of diversity in the Welsh media industry,
highlighting the sector's failure to engage with the substantive problems related to inclusion.
(Appendix C). Kulkarni argues that the industry itself needs to change to be more inclusive,
stating that it's not the job of marginalized individuals to fix the problems they are victims of.
His remarks shed light on the role of media organizations in fostering diversity and inclusion,
while challenging the widespread notion of a pipeline problem. Kulkarni's establishment of
IJC as a platform for marginalized individuals indicates an active push for greater diversity in
the industry.
I turned up to the first meeting at this public interest meeting group. There
were 20-25 people on the call. I was the only person of colour, and that
was probably the high watermark in terms of any kind of diversity or
inclusion. The future cannot look like the past, because that's what's got us
into this big old mess. I did a little Twitter call out to see if we created a
network would people be interested, and people were interested. Then
someone gave us some money, which is always slightly a double-edged
sword because you can do the thing, but then you've got to do the thing.
But we've got 177 members now. What it does prove is that the industry
sort of says, "Oh, the reason we haven't got greater diversity is because
the people don't exist. You know, there's a pipeline problem." Actually, now
I can say, "Well, we do exist. Maybe it's your space that is pretty crappy.
Maybe working for your organisation is pretty shitty because it's not
inclusive, and that is my experience." They're bad places to work if you are
a person from a marginalised background or identity. (Appendix C)
Kulkarni’s experiences draw attention to the challenges marginalized individuals face in
navigating the industry, where they are often reduced to their identities rather than their
professional expertise. I asked Kulkarni what the industry is doing to be more inclusive, and
how it could be more representative of all facets of Welsh life in the future. Kulkarni criticised
the industry’s tokenistic approach to diversity and inclusion, such as diversity internships,
and insists that organizations themselves must do the work to change, stating:
If you're saying we need to tell a more realistic picture of the world, a
diversity internship does not solve that. Actually, what needs to change is
the people and the organisations. It’s the people who need to do the work,
it's not my job or the job of that diversity intern- it's not their job to fix the
problems which they are the victims of. The organisation and the
individuals within it, they need to do the work. But why people avoid that is
because it means doing some work and actually changing. (Appendix C)Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
My final conversation was with Dr. Rachel Morris, Chief editor of Bylines.Cymru, a national
not-for-profit online newspaper that supports citizen journalism. The newspaper was
established on St. David’s Day, and has already gained traction as a reliable source of
Welsh news. Citizen journalism, as practised by Bylines.Cymru, involves ordinary citizens
contributing news, information, and commentary about their local communities. This form of
journalism can help fill gaps left by mainstream media by bringing a more diverse range of
voices and perspectives to the fore, especially from areas that may be underrepresented in
traditional media. Furthermore, the not-for-profit model of Bylines.Cymru points towards
another potential avenue for supporting quality journalism outside of the government
intervention mentioned by Moore. This model could potentially allow for more editorial
independence, mitigating concerns about reliance on government funding.
These interviews shed light on a Welsh media landscape that fraught with challenges,
complementing the evidence of the Literature review. The discussions with Dylan Moore,
Owen Davies, Shirish Kulkarni, and Dr. Rachel Morris underscore the urgent need for quality
local journalism in Wales, and the dangers posed by its absence. The findings highlight the
significant impact of media decline on democratic engagement, and the necessity for media
diversity and the importance of inclusivity within the industry.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
There is no present in Wales,
And no future;
There is only the past,
Brittle with relics
The words of R.S. Thomas in his poem ‘The Welsh Landscape’. They speak of a sentiment
we are proud of in Wales, of a deep-rooted tradition, of a resilience born from our rugged
landscapes, and industrial past. The feeling of hiraeth that R.S. Thomas evokes is no less
relevant to a hill farmer in the Preselis than to the Senedd’s Culture, Welsh Language and
Communications Committee, as both are unknowingly held in its grasp. This feeling, this
resilience, strongly resonates with many aspects in the mundanity of day-to-day Welsh life.
However, with resilience comes stubbornness and a refusal to change our ways. Wales may
have a historic tendency to look backwards, but the change needed in Wales now cannot be
affected retrospectively. Wales has to adapt; it has to realise its place in the twenty-first
The full or partial devolution of the Welsh media industry, and the creation of an independent
broadcasting authority could provide the independence and funding that the sector currently
lacks. However, the effectiveness of such an authority and the extent to which it can
revolutionise the Welsh media landscape largely depends on its implementation and
subsequent regulations.
Grassroots startups such as Kulkarni’s Inclusive Journalism Cymru promise great changes
to the sector, but their success depends on support from the government and a willingness
within the industry to adapt to the changing needs of the Welsh public. Citizen Journalism
such as that of Bylines.Cymru hopes to empower marginalised voices, but is this platform
one that can gather a large enough reach?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
This paper was ambitious, and rather than attempting to discuss the findings in great detail, I
have attempted to give space to the experiences and views of individuals. These have
repeatedly shown that the media landscape in Wales is characterised by a lack of diversity,
lack of representation, and a lack of Welsh interest content. By providing this insight I hope
to create a base that allows future discourse and research. Many questions are unanswered.
Desperately needed is a discussion asking how the Welsh media industry can be
restructured to better serve the diverse population of Wales. We also need to consider the
potential implications of establishing an independent broadcasting authority for Wales, and
ask how grassroots initiatives such as IJC can best be supported to bring about change in
the media landscape.
If the Welsh media industry doesn’t accept this need for drastic reform, then the people of
Wales stand a very real chance of being estranged from their country. The past may be
'brittle with relics', but the future of Welsh media can, and should be, malleable and vibrant.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Interviews transcribed using speech recognition software
Appendix A - Interview with Dylan Moore
5th April 2023, Academy Coffee Shop, Cardiff Bay.
Dylan Moore 0:01
I’ve been working for the IWA since 2014 on a one-day-a-week basis. So, part of my role is
straightforward in the sense that I'm the editor of the Welsh Agenda magazine, which is the
IWA's in-house magazine, but also goes out to bookshops across Wales. Current Affairs
magazine comes out twice, yeah. So, I've been doing that for the IWA for a long time. But in
the last year or so, almost exactly a year ago, I started working full time, and the other four
days of my week, when I'm not editing the magazine, I'm spending leading a project policy
project on media and democracy of Wales. It's got four aims. So the aims of the project are
one, to persuade Welsh Government to set up a contestable fund for independent news in
Wales. Two, to persuade UK Government and Welsh Government to talk to each other
about the potential to specify powers around broadcasted to be devolved. Three, to
persuade the centre of culture committee to set up an inquiry into misinformation and
disinformation in Wales. And four, to be a critical friend to Creative Wales, which is a Welsh
Government agency that helps support the creative industries, and essentially to support a
creative ecology within Wales so that creative industries bodies can essentially tell stories of
Welsh life in all its diversity. So that's the kind of very, very broad lots to do but really
interesting in, and really interested to see that those four things, they could all be projects on
their own. It's nice to sit in a position where you can see the links between them and where
things dovetail. So that's kind of what I'm doing.
James Bessant Davies 1:57
That's fantastic. I read recently your three-part paper on broadcasting regulation, is that a
part of it?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Dylan Moore 2:07
So yeah, so exactly. So that's part of it. Yeah. And in fact, last basically the project's funded
by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and we've essentially spent most of the research
budget on the broadcasting bit because we felt like that was the bit where there was an
evidence base missing. And there's a process ongoing whereby Welsh Government set up
an expert panel as part of their cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru to look at the
potential of devolving broadcasting. So that work that we did on broadcast and regulation
has fed into the process that the expert panel are going through, right? It's also going to feed
into the work of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, which is
being led by Dr. Rowe Williams McAllister. So that's kind of part of the picture of just like the
ongoing story of devolution, really, is that, you know, we're moving in that direction, that
power, you know, a lot, a lot. There's lots of consensus, particularly obviously Welsh Labour,
Plaid Cymru, that Wales needs more powers over various bits of policy. And we particularly
think that the media is something that needs support and attention, etc. So broadcast,
obviously, as part of that, but the public interest journalism stuff is also part of that mix. One
of the really interesting things is the fact that we've set this up, the project has these two
separate labels. And yet, we're seeing lots of convergence in that space because actually,
what's broadcast is really mean in the digital age, you know, broadcasting is collapsing into
digital, print journalism is collapsing into digital, everything's becoming blurred. So really, you
need something that looks across the whole piece, rather than keeping it kind of segmented
along these artificial kind of legacy media lines
James Bessant Davies 4:14Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Can I start with a really broad question? As someone who's really involved in Welsh media,
essentially, on the front line, I was wondering, what is your current view of the of the media
landscape in Wales?
Dylan Moore 4:30
It's really broad, and you'll get different answers from different people. I would say that there
has been an overarching narrative over the last decade or more, particularly related to some
of the work the IWA has previously done in this space. That narrative is that there is a
weakness in the Welsh media landscape, and that weakness is born of various factors. Of
course, there are kind of green shoots in various places, but not enough to create the kind of
systemic-level change that we need. So, what are those weaknesses? Some of the main
factors are that most Welsh people get their news from UK-based sources that don't actually
cover Wales in any depth whatsoever. For example, the most-read paper in Wales is the
Daily Mail. In Scotland, the Daily Mail has a Scottish edition, which covers the Scottish
Parliament and Scottish issues from a Scottish perspective. And that's kind of amusing,
using the Daily Mail as an example. But that's true across all of the kinds of traditional print
media that we would think of as being the papers. You would get certain media
organisations kind of fighting their corner a little bit and saying, "Well, actually, you know, we
still read the Western Mail." Yes. Whereas online has been so-so, the Western Mail's print
circulation has massively declined. And yeah, Wales Online's digital reach is considerable,
you could look at that and say, "Oh, well, that just filled in the gap where Western Mail has
left off." But the problem is, does Wales Online actually serve the best interests of Welsh
media users? There's an argument about that. They look at the quality of the content as well
as exactly, and that's where I've kind of held them back from doing the full hatchet job. But I
think media users can judge for themselves on, you know, are they getting the information
they need about decision-making in Wales? So, you know, are the top stories on websites
like Wales Online really the things that people need to know about their lives? Lots of theReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
content is kind of SEO-based. So, like, you know, if I scroll Twitter, I see some stories on
Wales Online, like yesterday, it's about Philip Schofield's brother. I don't know what that
means. Is it a story that's relevant to Wales? Is it relevant to the Welsh public? Is it relevant
to people sitting in this cafe? We want to understand what's going on inside out, for example.
James Bessant Davies 7:28
For example, media that takes the form of clickbait stock images?
Dylan Moore 7:32
Exactly. And that's, and I'm not, you know, obviously, I'm trying to hold back kind of being
completely critical of a particular news archive, just using it. But it's linked to the kind of
hollowing out of jobs. So, you know, there are a few of them 1000 journalists working in
Wales, and that's across any kind of media, local, regional… I mentioned, we don't really
have a national news outlet. We have the BBC, who do their work across the UK and have
Wales-based stuff going on BBC news online. You do have these newcomers like
Nation.Cymru, which has done incredibly well and he set up in 2017, has already
established, you know, a pretty credible reputation for covering stories that are not
necessarily covered elsewhere. But yeah, in general, we all know that the media that is
getting to Wales and it needs really serious attention. And part of the work that we're doing,
so I'm involved with something called the Public Interest Journalism Workgroup, which has
also been set up by Welsh Government, which is bringing together a range of people from
larger publishers like Reach and Newsquest. But also like hyper-locals, like The Caerphilly
Observer, something called the, get the name right, Independent Community News Network,
which is run at Cardiff University. It's actually a UK-wide network, but just happens to be
based in Cardiff. And it's actually one of the, sort of, I suppose more positive aspects of the
Welsh media landscape at the moment is that we have a kind of disproportionately high
number of those hyper-local startups compared to other places in the UK. So things likeReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
24, There are pockets across Wales where basically people have
though, who don't have a proper local paper, who are not being served well, who are trying
to do something about this, by setting up their own community groups but obviously, by its
very nature, that's quite patchy. People are not always fully trained. They don't often have
the resources they need to cover things in the way that they would like. So it's really about,
some of the solutions are out there about breathing life into some of those green shoots that
are happening.
James Bessant Davies 10:09
Am I right in thinking that the Senedd has given grants for hyperlocal media as well?
Dylan Moore 10:15: "I think so. Yeah, I think I mean, there are certain things where you think
it's kind of chicken feed at the moment in terms of the amounts of money, because I think
there was a fund of £100,000, which was spread across the whole sector. So when that
breaks down, if you're running the hyperlocal news, like, you know, if you wanted to set up a
hyperlocal newsroom in brackets, and cover soft power, so you might get £4,000, there's not
going to be something to buy a laptop. You know, that's, that's a quarter of your budget. And,
you know, I have heard anecdotal stories about funds being used for things like, you know,
someone's computer's broken, or they buy a new computer. That's not really support for the
media. That's just, you know, that's not even a sticking plaster, it is at the very basic of what
you need to have as a journalist. However, I think it's, you know, we're in an early phase
where at least it's being recognised that those outlets are important, and that they're filling a
gap that has kind of emerged. Port Talbert is a famous example. Some called Rachel House
you might want to look at she did her PhD about Port Talbot, which used to have four
newspapers covering the town, and now has none. And they don't even have a reporter in
the town. So that's like consumers like a news blackhole. But it's not always geographically,Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
though. So for example, if you think about where we are now, Cardiff Bay, okay. So, you
know, there might be some journalists right now starting in the centre, covering events there.
But is anyone talking to people in Grangetown about what's important to them? So it's about
having that kind of different view of what unused as it is, and how, you know, certain
communities, people, certain backgrounds are underrepresented in the media? Yes. So
there's a whole piece of work to do around diversity within the workforce, but also within the
stock, the type of stories that are covered in the media as well."
James Bessant Davies 12:48: "Yeah. So, staying on that topic? How, how do you think
Welsh media could better represent diversity, and serve all communities within Welsh
society? How do you think going forward, that can be achieved?"
Dylan Moore 13:06
I think that the first piece of it, so this is one of the pilot projects. I mean, this is why I'm really
keen to stress that whilst government are acting on this, they are they are doing some good
work. But it's going to take a little bit of time. So one of the one of the pilot projects that this
working group has been instrumental in getting funding for is a kind of audit of what's going
on. Because at the moment, we, you know, we can make an assumption that there is a lack
of diversity in newsrooms in news organisations based on kind of broad data that pulled from
across the UK. And if you extrapolate that away, I assume that that's the decision but we
don't know yet. So the first step is to actually map out the sector, who's working in it? What's
their pay and conditions? Where are the gaps? What do we need to do to encourage people
from different backgrounds into the industry? And then build from there. But I think that's,
that's the kind of first step is to actually have the knowledge of what the sector looks like.
Because at the moment, there's a lot of conjecture.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
James Bessant Davies 14:24
Going back to the question on local reporting. Like there was a study done a couple of years
ago by planning consulting for the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport, which
showed that it influenced voter turnout having a low standard of local reporting Do you think
there are further negative impacts to this? I mean, do you think can you see any other
obvious effects beyond this?
Dylan Moore 14:58
Yeah, I think there's that one of the biggest things from where I'm sitting is the erosion of
trust, generally in democracy, so it's not just about like, not turning out to voters, it's also
about like a lack of participation and lack of active citizenship or lack of trust. And also kind
of when you get these gaps in good information and good news, you get like this sort of
patchy information climate, which then allows misinformation disinformation, right. So we
saw that, particularly in the pandemic, around vaccines, yes, around like conspiracy theories
around again, you could get, like properly bad actors, you know, far right groups see that,
you know, even recently, Llantwit major, there was a patriotic right wing anti refugee
demonstration. And these very, very, actually, very, very small groups of bad actors can
really cause a lot of trouble, like you saw in Liverpool outside the hotel for asylum seekers
and stuff like that. So it's, it's dangerous, not just for democracy at a sort of basic level of
voting, but it's also dangerous thing for kind of like social and community cohesion. Because
of how people are, it's just as dangerous to be misinformed. And it just leaves that gap in
people's knowledge of what's going on around them and how decisions are made and who
makes those decisions. And that often leads to kind of alienation, frustration, and kind of,
disengagement, ultimately from society and, certainly, from any form of active citizenship-
active citizenship as a phrase, it seems a very long way away, when you're not being served
properly with good information. We saw this. So we did a project with the Open University ofReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Wales, where we put out a report called Citizens voices people's news making the media
work for Wales, and that that report, the entire report, and all the recommendations were
based on the views of 15 people in a citizens panel, who basically came from all walks of life
across Wales. And it was really interesting, I sat in on 19 hours of their discussions. Just
really interested to hear from ordinary people about like, how they use the media and how
they perceive the media, and how that affects their everyday life on and off. Because when
you're close to if you're working in the media, you, you sort of know things on a kind of
macro level. But you're, you know, listening to the citizens voices, you really, it really brings it
home, you interact with people who only get news when they hear a bulletin on commercial
radio, or if something randomly pops up on their phone. And they don't actively seek views
at all. Yes. And that's quite common. That is much more common than my kind of, you know,
being a bit of a media junkie.
James Bessant Davies 18:22
Yes. I think that's something I'd quite I'd still I'd quite like to, as part of this discussion, I'd like
to do a survey of say, 100 people and ask them questions about the media. Yeah. Yes. Ask
if they've noticed that lack of quality reporting. And yeah, I don't know what the wash media
needs to be the wash people.
Dylan Moore 18:43
Yes, it's quite Yeah. Well, a lot of them. So a lot of the work this work that we're doing with
the working group around public interest journalism, a lot of it's also about understanding the
media as a two way street. Yes, a lot of the time. People in the media would like identify
problems and think that, you know, we're a trusted source, you should trust us because we,
you know, we know that this information is good, we found it we but actually, if you sort of
turn it around was like, for people, like why should people trust organisations who are notReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
transparent who don't necessarily, you know, mentioned, you know, we can use the
database to Daily Mail, you know, if you're, if you're a Muslim woman living in Swansea, why
should you trust anything but the date and I'll say, because, generally when they portray it in
a negative context, you can just use them as one example, but so many books in society,
just think. How can how can you expect people to trust the media when they are being
vilified? demonised?
James Bessant Davies 19:58
Especially when you have no understanding Other media in this country? You don't know
what sources to trust yet.
Dylan Moore 20:05
exactly. And it's really it's really hard and one of the one of the people who is quite close to
this is a guy called Shirish Kulkarni, you might be really interested in talking to him at
sometime. He set up Inclusive Journalism Cymru, which is basically looking at some of these
specific issues. And one of the projects he did with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism
was to set up what he called the People's newsroom, where it was basically sort of almost
like turning the industry on its head and go into a community and saying, How can we create
our own newsroom? Tribune community power, because, in a sense, sort of traditional
media has a power that it kind of boards within a particular segment of society that doesn't,
you know, doesn't reach everyone in the way that it that it needs to doesn't involve everyone
in the way that it needs to. So loads of issues around that.
James Bessant Davies 21:23Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Thank you. Next! So, how do you think the Welsh media landscape differs from the rest of
the UK, especially to that of Scotland? And of other small nation states in Europe?
Dylan Moore 21:39
Yeah, that's a really, really, really good question. I think that the contrast with Scotland
particularly Stark, so in Scotland, there was a parallel process. So what we're doing now with
this work is making recommendations to government, they went through this process, kind of
two years before us. And some of the things that they said is similar to what we're saying.
With the sort of agenda and reportage, I just… you know, football is a really good example.
My main go to media source is the Guardian. When Wales play football, you go to the
website, and there's nothing. Maybe one story hidden away somewhere. And there'll be like
six stories about England about matches with detailed coverage getting said and nothing
about Wales. And then there might be just like, one little report on a Welsh match
afterwards, but hardly anything. And you just think, well, aren't we in the UK too and that's,
that's something that sport is important to a lot of people. But if you sort of extrapolate that
example, across the rest of you know, Health, Education, etc, etc. Similar thing if you do kind
of like filtered search for Wales, so like most of the main London based sites have got a
Wales area. And often the stories that are in that category, England and Wales stories, or
very tangentially related to Wales, or really old so you can tell they haven't covered a
specific sim Wales for a long time. Just another anecdotal thing. So the Morningstar has just
employed a reporter in Wales on a two day a week basis. He is the only report reporter
employed by a London based paper who actually lives in Wales.
James Bessant Davies 25:08
I think you mentioned the Catalan speaking areas of Spain in an article?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Dylan Moore 25:10
So Scotland is a really good one to compare the print. Yes. You know, the legacy media and
then when it comes to broadcast, yes, obviously, Wales has got lots of kind of parallels with
places like Catalonia and the Basque Country of Spain has been. I've got to be careful with
my language. I used to live in Spain. So you know, some people would perceive them as
nations within the nation. Other people would say that regions within the nation, either way,
they are areas that have a very strong and distinct identity culture and minority language.
They have multiple television stations. So it's kind of like, you know, 40 years ago, we got
our S4C. Yeah, so we've got our Station. Here it is. But in Catalonia, they've got multiple
channels in Catalan, in Basque Country, they've got multiple channels in Basque. So again,
it kind of shows that we're kind of behind on being served, you know, when you
contextualise Wales, you know, against other countries?
James Bessant Davies 26:24
Recently there’s been a big push for Welsh independence and it’s been gaining support. Do
you think that this lack of quality reporting, and maybe a sense of neglection that some
people are feeling… do you think it contributes towards a want for Welsh Independence.
Dylan Moore 26:39
Yeah, I think there's, there's definitely an element of that. And I think, you know, I mentioned
Nation.Cymru. I think when it first started, it was very much seen as being like, in tandem
with the YesCymru movement, I think now, very sensibly, there has been a kind of slight
distance back in a way. Because at that point, all their adverts were basically covering
adverts, which seemed a bit odd. But, yeah, I definitely think that it's just one thing on theReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
list, really, in terms of I don't think it's the main factor why people are potentially supporting
independence, but it's definitely a factor. And I think, potentially one of the reasons why
there is some pushback against the idea of a strengthening of the Welsh media is that, you
know, the more we grow out our own separate civic sphere, the more conversation that
might be around independence, the more potential for damage.
James Bessant Davies 27:45
It gives the people that voice…
Dylan Moore 27:46
exactly. You know, whether independence is a good thing should be debated. And there
should be space and a forum for that debate.
James Bessant Davies 28:04
Can we maybe talk quickly about one nationalisation of the Welsh press and what your
views are?
Dylan Moore 28:11
Yeah. nationalisation, nationalisation, nationalisation is a really strong word, yes. I would
understand that as a complete takeover by the government. And it would be like a Soviet
style organ for government campaigns. I think that's not that's never going to be on the table.
However, I think if we talk about public funding, for media, that is a completely different thing.
And as long as it is administered at arm's length, and the government doesn't have any
editorial control or any direct sway over media, that that is basically the answer to some ofReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
the problems. Because I would argue that public interest journalism- news media that is
providing good information is as important as like, you know, utilities, like, obviously, you
need water to stay alive, you need electricity to heat your home. You need good information
to be informed about the world around you. If that model is broken, which it is, then surely it's
the role of government to step in, and to support the flow of good information around society
to the benefit of all citizens. And that's the media, isn't it? That's, that's what the media does
it ensures that flow. So the difficulty is kind of designing the mechanism for that. If you're
going to do something at arm's length, well, okay. How does that actually work? I think that's
where the conversation needs working out. What it would take to make public interest
journalism, a public service.
James Bessant Davies 30:02
I suppose, is the question of funding as well. Is it something that the Senedd has in its
powers currently? Or is it something we have to get from Westminster?
Dylan Moore 30:09
I mean, there is a commitment. So in the cooperation agreement between Welsh Labour and
Plaid Cymru committee, there are commitments to do with developing specific powers
around broadcasting, but also particularly specifically around funding for journalism. So there
is a commitment there, they have set money aside. So essentially, it's about, you know, part
of our role is thinking through how that money would be best spent. So you mentioned about
the support for hyperlocal. So like, for example, buy a new laptops for people whose laptops
are broken, not a good use of public service. Whereas for example, and this is one of the
pilot projects that's been funded via this group is having a full time reporter in the Senedd,
whose copy can be then used by any media outlet, that's a really good use of money,
because it's kind of getting good information, and ensuring that it's, like accessible toReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
anyone, but also the other media outlets can disseminate what that reporter is doing. So it's
kind of like, you know, how much they're there. But, you know, let's say that you're spending
a 30,000 pounds, and you'll get a really good return on that in terms of coverage of the
Senedd. So it's just, it's just designing the right kind of interventions, rather than kind of just
throw money at a problem and hope that it sticks because money has a habit of kind of
going down the drain.
James Bessant Davies 31:55
So the role of print based media these days, such as newspapers and magazines, does it
still exist? Is there still a place for this? Or is it pretty much being replaced by social media?
Dylan Moore 32:06
It's a really good question. I think so I but then I'm nearly 43. Yeah, I think, you know,
obviously the media landscape is very fragmented in terms of form. And people get their
news in different ways. And I think it's important that everybody is catered for everybody can
access the news at the point that they feel comfortable with. And that that brings us back to
that idea of like, understanding media users, rather than making it all about what was good
for the journalists, like, essentially, if we're talking about news as a public service, actually, if
you're serving people, you should be asking them. How, how do you want to receive your
news, and for some people that might be analogue television, others it might be digital TV,
others, it might be newspapers, others it might be on that phone. But we've got to ensure
that good information is able to reach people where they are. On kind of a purely romantic
level. I just love print. I love printed products and other magazines. I will say that, you know I
do love newspapers. But I've got to admit even for me, I don't buy printed newspapers that
often because everything is on the my phone.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
James Bessant Davies 33:31
But a problem is that there isn’t really a print newspaper that covers Wales. A national paper
that covers Wales.
Dylan Moore 33:38
The Western Mail argue that they have a smaller readership in the north west of Wales. I
think that small is tiny. So yeah, you're right. You've got the Daily Post up in north Wales,
you've got the Western Mail in South Wales, but the circulations are abandoning ship fast.
James Bessant Davies 34:02
What’s the coverage in West Wales and Pembrokeshire like? There doesn't seem to be
anything specific.
Dylan Moore 34:08
They've got I think there's a paper called Tivyside Advertiser, I'm not quite sure what area
that covers. So there are local papers that haven't disappeared completely, but within your
lifetime is just steady decline because of online platforms. Which means that, you know, it
means that we have to adapt, because you could just look at it and go it's really sad. We
should do something about it, we should save X, Y and Zed paper, but at a certain point, it's
kind of like, why are we saving things that clearly broke when we could be investing in things
that would serve people better? There is a kind of demographic correlation between how
people want to receive news. I was with a group of people the other day who were in their
30s, which is not that much younger than me. And they were talking about, you know, theirReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
dad going out to buy the paper as if that was really funny. It's not that unusual. But clearly,
there's a whole generation that were like, buying a newspaper is not a thing that they've ever
done. I don't know about you. You know, have you ever been to the newsagent and bought
the paper? I don't think. Yeah, there we go. And that kind of brings us to the heart of what
this is all about, really, isn't it? Because you know, we've talked quite a lot about the
influence of like the London based media on Wales. But a lot of this is they're not just UK
issues. They're global issues. When I did my work experience with the Brecon and Radnor in
1995, I don't quite know what stage the internet was at. But it certainly wasn't a thing that
ordinary people used in their daily life. And obviously, the internet, you know, just the digital
revolution has just thrown everything up in the air. And we're still kind of chased into catch
up. And obviously, now we're into AI.
James Bessant Davies 36:47
I don't know. And also talking about how global newspapers are. People sell their copy to
newspapers all over the world. Due to the nature of the internet, once published, everything
is global.
Dylan Moore 37:00
But also, of course, it is the domination of the internet by a very small group of companies
based in Silicon Valley. That has incredible, like, if you put together the top, I can't remember
who was included. But you know, if you put to them a Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft,
whoever, yes. Like, Tinder was like $900 billion. The power that is inherently in that. It's just
incredible. And then you're talking about like, right, I'm gonna start a local paper in Brecon,
but you know, clearly you're then relying on pushing your information out via Twitter,
Facebook, a website, which people will access through Google?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
James Bessant Davies 38:13
So, what do you think the role is of social media in shaping Welsh public discourse?
Dylan Moore 38:24
There's a big question, the rabbit hole I know, well structure and be like, you know, first, I
thought this is worth pointing out, like only 11% of people in Wales are on Twitter. We are on
Twitter, it feels that everyone is.
I mean, obviously, social media does have a role.
So when we did the citizens panel, people talking about getting news from Facebook. What
does that really mean? Do they get news from Facebook via what their friends posts in terms
of directly, you know, there is an event going on down the road? That's one way of getting
information, of getting news. In the same way that you know, in the past, people might come
and knock on your door or put a leaflet through your door. Do they get information via social
media in terms of like groups and community pages that are essentially performing some of
the functions of public interest reporting? Almost like unknowingly in some cases. Or are
they getting news via social media via people sharing articles from the South Wales Argus or
ITV and that's the that's the funny thing is like when you say getting news from social media,
it can come from a range of sources and social media is the funnel through all of this
disparate stuff arrives in front of your eyeballs, honestly. So there's not kind of, there's not
like a one size fits all way of describing how people get their news from social media - its
very complicated. And I think some of those kinds of providers of news, that's some of the so
when we talk about WalesOnline, what are the main ways that they push their contact is
through social media. So when I was talking about the Philip schofields Brothers, that was
via Twitter, and you know, some of the things some of the things that they might say in theirReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
defence is like, if that was in the paper, that might be a really small article at the back of the
paper, and it's arranged by relative level of importance, whereas algorithms change that
relative level of importance to tilt towards the things that they know they can get views from.
And that's where it leads into the whole debate about clickbait. Because often, the thing that
gets hidden says, like 17 nightclubs, that you used to go to in the 90s? Because it's like a
nostalgia trip and people on Facebook will share it. Oh, yeah, I used to go to Zeus. It's not
public interest journalism, but it's getting a lot of clicks. Or, you know, Greggs have opened a
new branch in Abergavenny that it is news. But it's mainly a way of getting advertising
revenue for Greggs, as well. So there's all these kind of like grey areas where it's like, it's
news. But is it really public interest journalism, and I think that's what, that's certainly where
the conversations that I'm involved in, are going is like, holding down a definition of public
interest, because that helps us kind of filter, what kind of things should receive public
funding. Because otherwise, you could just flip them, anyone who says I’m setting up a news
platform. There's all kinds of stuff that's interesting to some people, but not really helping.
Democracy is not really helping society.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Appendix B - Interview with Owen Davies
6th April 2023. Interview conducted over Zoom.
James Bessant Davies 0:16
Was there a particular event or situation that inspired you guys to create the paper? What
was your inspiration?
Owen Davies 0:48
Yeah, to be honest, it started with one of the other editors. He used to work in advertising
and he still does like graphics and stuff. He was an art director at an ad agency for a while.
He just basically loves magazines, basically. And so always wanted to do like a Welsh
magazine. And then, because my main thing is making films, and he also makes film, so we
met because we both make films, and then he said, "I've got an idea for a magazine." And
then we were just like, "Yeah, let's do it." And then the other editors came on, and then we
started working on it. And then other editors came on as well. But yeah, I think it was
basically just like, we didn't really think there were like, well, we were joking, we were
referring to as Wales' first magazine, which was obviously taking the piss but like, because
there are magazines in Wales and there are good magazines in Wales. But we didn't feel
like there were kinda like fun magazines in Wales. I think the magazines that are quite good
in Wales are quite serious magazines. And so we were kind of like, oh, we kind of want to do
something that's a little bit insane. I think just Wales is an insane place and a lot of stuff
kinda doesn't acknowledge that it's an insane place. We basically just like, yeah, having a
slightly like, I don't know, I think like, just Wales is an insane place and a lot of stuff kinda
doesn't treat doesn't acknowledge that it's an insane place. I could rant about like, loads of
different things, but like, one would be, for example, like, I hate Scandy noir, like the kind of
hinterland and all the things follow the depression. Yeah, because they've literally like
they've taken a template that was like, for Denmark, because it's just been like, Wales. And
it's like, that's not Wales at all. Wales is like, such an insane place. And I think that's what itReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
was, it was basically to just capture what an insane place was having a magazine that
reflects that, basically, I think was the general idea.
James Bessant Davies 3:37
That's brilliant. So following on from that, what is your target audience? What demographic
was it aimed at?
Owen Davies 3:48
Yeah, I don't think we just wanted it. It's actually been quite strange because, in the
beginning, the target audience was like our weird mates. And it's actually quite interesting
because, the thing is, it is quite expensive. Basically, what happened was, there's been
amateurism all along the way. For example, when we did the Kickstarter, we said that if you
gave 10 pounds, you got a magazine. But by the time we actually got round to printing it, we
realised that we were making a loss on all of those because it costs close to 15 pounds per
copy to print. So we're now selling it for 20 pounds. Realistically, unfortunately, our target
audience has become people who are willing to pay 20 pounds for a magazine. But I guess
it's just people who feel underserved by what we were talking about before, people who buy
stuff that doesn't capture how insane a place Wales is and who want to see that vision of
Wales reflected. It's also one of the things we've been doing, we've been talking about is that
a lot of the stuff is very mundane. We've got stuff about one of our writers talking about weird
people who come into Swansea where she worked. We've got another guy talking about the
train journey from London to Carmarthen or something. And other stuff about shit reality TV,
and like little parks just outside. I mean, it's not really a park. These are woods just outside
Cardiff. We've got this big thing where we wanted to find Wales' biggest head. It's very
mundane stuff, really. But we're just really interested in quite mundane, everyday stuff like a
Minecraft server and it's just like quite everyday stuff. But mundane, but also really weird,Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
you know, like the weirdness of the mundane and the everyday. So it's just people who are
interested in that, really. I guess I should say we didn't do enough demographic things. We
didn't target a specific age range. We are kind of doing that now because we kind of feel like
we've hit most of the people we were going to hit in Wales, and I don't know, 30 who it's a
stretch to pay 20 quid. We're now going after older, more middle-aged people. But yeah, so
the target was just people who we thought would be in for that kind of stuff, which is a
terrible answer. But we didn't think of it much more beyond that, unfortunately.
James Bessant Davies 7:01
That's great. And talking about funding, were you entitled to any grants or anything from the
Welsh Government? Did you have any security?
Owen Davies 7:11
Actually, we're trying to work it out now. I think we might have messed it up a little bit
because there was a deadline. We're looking at two grants, one for cultural periodicals and
one for small magazines, which is more literary and less about locality. Cultural periodicals
give you more money, around 8,000 pounds over a four-year period, per issue. Small literary
presses, on the other hand, give you around 1,000 pounds per issue. We're waiting for an
answer back from them, but I have a feeling we missed the deadline for the cultural
periodicals grant. We probably would have gone for the small literary presses grant if we
hadn't received so much from Kickstarter. We got enough from Kickstarter that we thought
we could do what we wanted, but it was a stroke of luck. Michael Sheen found it and gave us
2,000 pounds, and another rich company gave us another 2,000 pounds. Without them, we
wouldn't have been able to do what we did. We may have had to make it a smaller and more
disposable thing, and probably cut articles. But we're in a position now where we hopefully
will get some money from the Welsh Bucks Council, and we may have to do pre-orders forReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
the next one, but we should be fine for issue two and financing issue three. The short
answer is that we didn't need to apply for grants because we got enough money on
Kickstarter, but now we need to apply for grants, so we're trying to get some money from
them at the moment.
James Bessant Davies 9:43
So what sort of number of copies did you sell?
Owen Davies 9:47
So, we had a run of 500 copies, right? And I think we've sold about... I think we're on about
262-270. So, we've sold just over half so far. The idea is that we'll have sold out of the shoe
by the time issue two goes on sale, but maybe not. We'll see. The idea is to do five issues
over five years, and then we'll probably stop. Each issue has a theme, and the first issue's
theme was the brain, talking about the brain drain. Issue two is going to be geography.
We're not sure what issue three is going to be about yet, but I think it's probably going to be
beauty. We'll see if we even get to make an issue three. But that's the idea, five issues over
five years, and then probably pack it in or pivot.
James Bessant Davies 11:00
Okay. What challenges have you faced in creating and distributing the magazine, and have
you encountered any resistance from established media outlets?
Owen Davies 11:18Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
No, I mean, we have a running joke that we're trying to start beef with Wales Online, but I
couldn't say they acknowledge the beef in any way. To be honest, we haven't had enough
interaction with any sort of established institutions to have any resistance from them. Maybe
we will when we apply for Books Council funding, and maybe there'll be some objections
there. But basically, the institutions and the establishment aren't aware enough of us to offer
any resistance. I'm sure they wouldn't like it, but I guess there's no way to find out until they
become aware of us. We'll see.
James Bessant Davies 12:48
So, the paper tries to fill a gap in the Welsh media landscape that exists currently, right?
There is a need for more diverse voices and perspectives within Welsh media. Do you think
you're trying to identify those and address them?
Owen Davies 13:07
Yeah, I think so, for sure. With ours, it was kind of a mix of people who... There are people in
there who already have a platform, like someone like Stan Cross or Dan Evans, who does
destination radio. And then there are people who are just our mates, you know, like some of
them are just funny, and one of the articles is literally just written by a guy I went to school
with. And then some of them are people who we saw being funny on Twitter, and we asked
them to write an article. They hadn't written articles before, they'd only written funny tweets,
but we made it work. It is a mix in that respect. But it's also very much drawn from a pool of
our friends and people we know, which means it's a very white magazine. We do need to
address that. But in terms of diversity of people who don't normally have a platform in
traditional Welsh media, then yeah, you know, I think hopefully is it does it does offer like a
difference in that respect.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
James Bessant Davies 15:39
Do you think everyday issues are represented? Do you think Welsh people are receiving the
media that Welsh people need? Effectively?
Owen Davies 15:49
No, definitely not. I mean, like, I don't necessarily think that we love it because, you know, it's
like, for example, we're not giving any kind of news or anything. One of the things with ours
is that we don't want to do stuff that can be like, for example, we were talking to Kevin Allen
who directed "Twin Town" about doing something, but he was like, "I can do an interview
about my new film." And we don't really want to talk about current things that are very much
tied to being around now. We'd rather it was a document that works for later. Yeah, there's
not like, I mean, literally, it's just Wales Online. Isn't that like the Daily Mail? But like, I don't
know, anyone who, you know, and certainly no one my age would even maybe one. I'm 28,
so maybe some people would, but I'm imagining people younger than me wouldn't generally
know what the Daily Mail is. They probably like, they've liked Wales Online on Facebook, but
I don't even know if people already use Facebook.
James Bessant Davies 17:34
Is that your main source of getting news, would you say?
Owen Davies 17:40
Yeah, I mean, I've also liked Nation.Cymru. I'm not a massive fan of theirs either, to be
honest. One of the things that Nation.Cymru tells us is that they're genuine. They're like, theyReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
can't really write. If you look, you'll never see any negative reviews or anything on there.
Everything has got to be like clickbait that says "Why Wales is great," you know? I think
there's this thing of succumbing to "Isn't Wales great"itis, which is such an annoying thing. I
think definitely, it would be amazing if there was more of a, I do think there's some good
stuff, like I think even Wales Online, like I think the guy who writes Wales Online, Will
Hayward, I think does really good stuff. There are sections of it. It's just, you know, it's just
really generic. And a lot of the stuff they posted actually isn't in Wales. It's just because
they're Trinity Mirrors now, called Reach, someone else. But it's just stuff they recycled from
like the main mirror page. You know, when The Sun is just the thing about a guy getting a
flight to Ibiza to buy a pint and then coming back. And like, when I was younger, and I was
like, when I did my undergraduate degree and I was living in England, I would like I would
live, I would read, I would look at Wales and live things and have a sort of homesickness
because of the stupidity. But now I'm kind of like, I kind of just wish this was a bit better.
James Bessant Davies 20:31
And there's no focus on any quality local reporting within Wells online, is that right?
Owen Davies 20:38
Not at all. Exactly. And there definitely could be. Realistically, we're never going to publish
any kind of investigative journalism because of time constraints. It's like how South Park can
be very current because they turn it around so quickly, but it takes realistically a year to
make something like that. We can't do stuff like that in a year because it might be irrelevant.
But it would be amazing if there was more of a focus on investigative journalism in Wales
because obviously, there's a need for it just as there is elsewhere. But unfortunately, it's not
going to be us.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
James Bessant Davies 21:41
Thank you. Have you received any feedback from readers or supporters of the paper that
particularly resonated with you? And how do you measure the success of your publication?
Owen Davies 21:54
Yes, we've received some feedback recently because we're doing our press thing at the
moment. A lot of people have said some funny things. One person said, "The Paper is the
best and worst thing I've read all year. I buried it in the garden and burst into tears. If you've
got anything about you, you'll buy this and begin the process of destroying both yourself and
the insidious lethargy of 21st century Camry." Someone else said, "Just a fantastic object,
nicely funny, angry, and beautiful. Really great magazine." We also had someone say,
"Dispatches from the cinema sexual frustration at the chip shop, strange fiction, even
stranger law, interviews of legends like Ian bone, essential publication for native rapper base
and distant admirers or Wales." Another person said, "Have you ever asked for nothing?
When you know you're owed something? Has heartbreak ever ground you into dust? Have
you ever been to Port Talbot? Then the paper might be for you." People have also
commented on how oversized it is. In terms of bad feedback, some people have talked
about it being expensive, and we've had one or two people who found it a bit negative or
alarming, but the idea is that it's critical while also being amusing. We don't have any articles
that are just critical.
James Bessant Davies: 25:27
Have you learned any lessons from your experience with the paper? Do you have any
advice for anyone wanting to create a magazine like this in the future or entering the press?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Owen Davies: 25:39
Yeah, I mean, I think just like, we were really naive in terms of working out what happened.
Actually, printing costs went up so much between us doing the Kickstarter and us printing it.
Also, it was originally meant to be 40 pages, and it ended up being 128 pages. So sticking to
initial targets is good. It's a lot harder if you've got other jobs. We've just been, I mean, all
three of us who are editing it, like, I'm doing my masters and working, and another one is
doing a PhD, and then another one is just working a lot. So it's often quite hard to have time.
I think the thing I'd say is just doing stuff with other people. Because, you know, we would
never be able to do it if it was just one of us. It's quite good that it's three of us who edit it
and one of us is focused on the design stuff. And then me and Aaron are more focused on
the copy. But, you know, when it comes down to it, we can delegate, you know, I can do the
designs, and Aaron can write the copy and things like that. So it's kind of like having a team
is always good. Especially if it's a team where you can divide stuff up quite nicely because
your skills complement each other. And also being aware of money, especially if you're
doing print media, which is a bit of a crazy thing to do, but is a fun thing to do. It's fun to have
a physical object.
James Bessant Davies: 27:32
Are you expecting more or fewer articles in the next edition? Do you think it'll be more
Owen Davies: 27:38
Definitely, well, in terms of, yeah, so it will be shorter, the actual thing will be smaller too.
Yeah, I mean, we probably will be doing more of it ourselves just because we have lessReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
money. So it will probably be just as much work, but it will be a much smaller thing. We're
not sure yet if we're going to stick with the massively oversized thing or if we're going to
make it look completely different issue by issue. So we haven't quite worked that out yet. But
yeah, we'll see. We've started on ideas for the issue and stuff, so it will definitely be smaller.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Appendix C - Interview with Shirish Kulkarni
12th April 2023. Interview conducted over Zoom. James’s microphone failed to record, so
transcript is partial.
To generate revenue and solve existing funding problems, many news outlets use pop-up
adverts and other similar methods. However, it's not clear why they would assume this
would improve things. In fact, this often leads to a cycle where the quality of the coverage
gets worse. As a result, many outlets start to ask people to subscribe to their services. The
problem with this model is that it's not very attractive to consumers, as they don't see the
value in subscribing to something that's of poor quality and not very distinctive from what
they can already get on social media.
This is a big systemic problem that's affecting the entire industry, and it's not just about bad
people making bad decisions. The models that seem to be working are those that cater to
niche audiences, which is where you'll find more people from marginalized communities
being served. For example, there's a great example of this in the US with a company called
El Tímpano, which caters to largely Latino communities. They've managed to secure
government advertising for things like health messaging because they're the only ones
reaching those communities.
I'm also part of a group that's working on public interest journalism, and one of the things
we're discussing is statutory notices. These are public information adverts that the
government is required by law to put out in printed media. However, this is becoming
increasingly out of date, as more people are getting their information from online sources
rather than printed media. The industry is trying to hold onto this model, as without it, their
business model would totally collapse. Instead, we need to think about different business
models that can work in the current environment.
Overall, there's a lack of innovation and forward-thinking in the industry, with many people
trying to cling onto the past rather than adapt to the present. This is what's got the industry
into its current state, and we need to start thinking differently if we want to find a way out of
this mess.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
I turned up to the first meeting at this public interest meeting group. There were 20-25
people on the call. I was the only person of colour, and that was probably the high
watermark in terms of any kind of diversity or inclusion. The future cannot look like the past,
because that's what's got us into this big old mess. I did a little Twitter call out to see if we
created a network would people be interested, and people were interested. Then someone
gave us some money, which is always slightly a double-edged sword because you can do
the thing, but then you've got to do the thing. It's like, I have to pay the bills as well. But
we've got 177 members now. What it does prove is that the industry sort of says, "Oh, the
reason we haven't got greater diversity is because the people don't exist. You know, there's
a pipeline problem." Actually, now I can say, "Well, we do exist. Maybe it's your space that is
pretty crappy. Maybe working for your organisation is pretty shitty because it's not inclusive,
and that is my experience." They're bad places to work if you are a person from a
marginalised background or identity.
I've had to go and speak to the head of BBC Wales about horror stories experienced by
members in the last year. But in the last six months, I've had to go and speak to, you know,
the industry at a systemic level, to attempt to change the conditions rather than an individual
level. There is a real failure to engage with what the substantive problems are. Particularly
the last three years, since Black Lives Matter, people go, "Oh, we need to do something
about this. Let's have a diversity internship." Because that makes it look like we're doing
something. And we can put it in the annual report at the end of the year. What is the problem
you're trying to solve here? You need to have a theory of change, right? What is the ultimate
outcome we're trying to achieve? If you're saying we need to tell a more realistic picture of
the world, a diversity internship does not solve that. It doesn't even necessarily change
anything for that individual. Because if you've got to the point where you've been to
university and you're applying for a job, you've crossed all the big hurdles, frankly, so it's not
solving anything. What you're doing is creating a kind of tokenistic thing. Actually, what
needs to change is the people and the organisations. It’s the people who need to do theReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
work, it's not my job or the job of that diversity intern- it's not their job to fix the problems
which they are the victims of. The organisation and the individuals within it, they need to do
the work. But why people avoid that is because it means doing some work and actually
changing. There's a failure to engage with what was actually the problem here. The problem
in Wales is even less diverse an industry than the rest of the UK, which is not very diverse.
Largely people aren't even really thinking about it. You know, like, I end up having to talk
about diversity in all these working groups, I wasn't asked to be on these things because I'm
a person of colour. I have a pretty successful national international journalism career. But I
ended up just having to talk about diversity. I'm not an expert on this stuff, and just get
forced into it. If you're a diversity intern, and you're the only person of colour or the only
disabled person in that newsroom, you end up having to put your head above the parapet,
you know, on every issue of kind of diversity, it's like, you can't just be a journalist.
I mean, there's a lack of accountability and space journalistically. I am best known for
uncovering the British Steel pensions scandal, which runs into the billions of pounds. That
story would have been uncovered probably before I did if there was any local media. I was
speaking to pension advisors, and one of them said to me, "you just keep an eye on these
guys, because there's something dodgy going on here." But that was just me trying to get
ahead of the game. If you were in Port Talbot, speaking to steel workers every day, you
would have picked up on that. It's not a story about how I'm such an amazing journalist, it's
the story of those stories being missed. I don't put investigative journalism as a separate
category. It's just persistence. It's a general lack of accountability and scrutiny, not just of
local government and stuff, but that as well. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism did a
story about a local council and a con man who gambled on solar farms that shouldn't have
been done by a national organization. That should have been picked up by a local journalist,
and arguably, it wouldn't have gotten as bad. In a way, it's part of the general malaise, but
because there's no scrutiny, people just think they can do whatever they want, whether it's
national government or local government.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
I believe the difficulty lies in the business model. It's not about the quality of journalism but
rather who pays for it. Sometimes, there's a lack of ambition, even within the BBC, who I’ve
done a lot of work for. For instance, if a publication like Nation.Cymru were to receive a
donation of £25,000 from the Books Council of Wales, they may also receive some money
from memberships and advertising, but that still adds up to less than £100,000. Getting more
money from advertising or memberships won't change the conditions or even pay for an
extra journalist. It's just fiddling around the edges. What's needed is a big grant, but there
doesn't seem to be much ambition or innovation towards that. Even if they were to receive
an additional £5,000, which is only 5-10% of their annual income, it wouldn't change much.
Ultimately, the business model needs to be entirely reimagined because the current model
isn't working. However, with everything stripped down, who has the time to do that?
Additionally, it seems that no one is doing anything distinctive in Wales that sets them apart
from other publications. The more people doing the same thing, the worse it becomes. It's
essential to think entirely differently and come up with innovative ideas to stand out in the
The storytelling work that I do involves telling stories in various ways, and this is true for the
entire industry. For instance, at the beginning of this year, and it happens almost every
week, the top story on the BBC Wales news website, which appears on all the websites, was
about a crash on the M4 that resulted in the death of one person. But what value does that
story have for anyone? What does it tell us about the world and how to live our lives?
Essentially, it has zero value to the user. So why are we doing it? It's just a habit, a form. It's
what news looks like. Because ultimately, we're creating a product, and the product has to
have value. If you want someone to pay for something, it has to have value to them. But that
story doesn't have any value. The only people who need to know about it are the person's
family, and they already know. I'm not saying it's not tragic, but does it have any value?
Probably not. Well, definitely not.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
When people talk about news avoidance, it's not just because it's too traumatic or something
like that. It's actually because they're not getting any value. It's like when you buy soap
powder and it doesn't work, you don't buy it again. And the journalism industry fails to realize
that. The industry's response is to give people a news literacy campaign so they can see
how good our journalism is. But it's almost the only industry where it says the customer is
wrong. We're always right. They don't understand how great our journalism is.
I never make predictions because I don't believe people always behave rationally or do
what's best for them. In a piece I wrote for Neiman, and for, I talked about
how basic news stories can already be written by machines, and they definitely will be in the
future. So the only way journalists will still have jobs is if we lean into the things that make us
different from machines, like connection, collaboration, and care. Journalists will need to be
facilitators, connectors, and community organizers. Those will be the skills that matter in the
future, not just writing inverted pyramid style news stories.
It may be difficult for the next generation of journalists because those are not the skills they
typically have, but it could also solve the diversity and inclusion problem in the industry.
People who are good at those things are often working in a totally different way and didn't go
to prestigious universities or have postgraduate diplomas. The industry needs to change the
entry pathways, and technology will be the driving force behind that change. Ego is one of
the biggest problems in journalism. People still think they are artists and that readers want to
read 5,000-word long reads, but regular people don't read that.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Appendix D - Interview with Dr Rachel Morris
19th April 2023. Interview conducted over Zoom.
James Bessant Davies 0:02
I think it's very exciting. It's been almost two months since Bylines.Cymru launched. And I
just wondering what sort of reception you've received so far?
Dr Rachel Morris 0:18
Yeah, seven weeks today? Do you know it's really hard to know what kind of reception? It's
so difficult now to measure online? My measures of success are have I kept it going, you
know, did we get it aloft? And then keep it in the air? Yes. Did I have panics the first few
weeks that there would not be anyone writing for it? Yes, but that didn't happen. And so far,
we've managed to, let's see, no. Just working on a piece from Yes Cymru for today. That will
be piece number 65, in seven weeks, with 58 different writers. About 50% of whom have
never written before, which I think is amazing. So obviously, our measure of success is quite
different than, than a publication with a different model. Because it's citizen journalism, you
know, I think there are a number of people who are very embedded in the journalism world
and Wales for wondering why I'm not hanging out with them and kind of getting in there. But
that's not the point. The point is to actually get in among the people of Wales and see if
there's anything they would like to say, and then publish that for them. And that's what I'm
working on. So every day, I reach out to three to five different people and organisations that I
find through word of mouth, or through Twitter accounts, or whatever. And just let them know
that we exist and that my inbox is always open. And so it's a marathon, not a sprint. There,
but the feedback has been almost entirely positive. That have been a couple of people who
haven't been so kind, but they have their own agenda. For example, someone who used to
be involved with the National Wales, who famously had a private eye article written about
him, who you know, wants my job. Someone else who Yeah, I didn't apparently befriend him
on Facebook enough before launching, and so I don't have his support. You know, that's the
online world. But for the most part, yeah, people just think it's a, you know, a wonderful thingReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
to know that if they have something to say that they think isn't being heard that there's a
platform for that. And then it's just enough, after giving them the confidence to get something
together to publish. Because there may be not, you know, confident writers, or have never
even written before. So it's very different. As an editor, there's a lot more support given to
some people. And just a lot more outreach, but over time, as more and more people know,
exist, and why? Because I think a lot of people don't understand citizen journalism, they
don't quite get it. And they'll be in touch, like, Oh, why haven't you written about HS2 today,
because it's in the news, but we don't, you know, it'd be it'd be great eventually to have the
capacity to follow the news cycle, but in know, and have someone who could just throw
something up in a day, but I don't have a staff that way. We're all volunteers. So it's gonna
everyone's busy. So that, you know, that may never happen. And that's okay. If something
super important, and we really do need to do something that day, then I'll do it myself. And
I've done I think, three articles now, including my opening editorial. But again, it's not my
platform. It's not, you know, I want to be careful about that. So, yeah, it's exciting, and also
just working with the rest of the ByLines network. I mean, we definitely benefited from that
already existing and already having support and being run by people like Mike Goldsworthy
with huge following who could give us a big bump on launch day? Yeah, it's wonderful being
part of that team. And we can give each other ideas all the time. You know, we have
obviously WhatsApp groups and basically something happening in Scotland that I don't think
Scotland's picked up on, you know, okay, so that's, that's really wonderful. And unusual.
Again, newspapers don't usually have that kind of sideways movement. Sideways.
Everything sideways. The Telegraph are speaking to people from top down whereas we do
everything sideways.
James Bessant Davies 5:05
And I mean, Bylines.Cymru was created to address gaps in Wales' media landscape to
some extent. And I was just wondering what pushed you to do this, to start Bylines.Cymru?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Dr Rachel Morris 5:27
For me, it was an accident. I know, they had thought about having Wales for a while but
hadn't done nothing concrete. They're so busy. Everyone is so busy. Because, you know,
like, in my case, I do voluntary full time. And I work full time, freelance mostly proofreading,
and some writing and editing. And a lot of the people involved are retired. But that's not to
say that they have loads of free time. So it was on the radar, but hadn't really done anything.
And it's really the catalyst, which is interesting when you think about independence. The
catalyst was Scotland launching last August. And I didn't see anyone else doing it. That day,
you know, he tweeted about Scotland, so I tweeted at him that there should be a Welsh one.
And he said, DM me, and I so nearly didn't, because not that many months earlier. I used to,
I used to house it, as I'm doing now full time, all over Europe, it kept my overheads down so I
could write and make art and not need to make a lot of money. And Brexit forced me back to
the UK, it would, it became kind of legally impossible for me to keep living that way. And I
hear he is making a documentary about the impacts of Brexit. So I mentioned this to him,
and he said, Oh, drop a line to this address and write me an article about it. And so I pitched
him and never heard anything back. So when he said DM me, I thought, I'm not bothering,
but a day went by. I just thought, though, we really do need a Bylines.Cymru, and it needs to
be called Cymru tonight, Wales. And so I did DM him. And he did reply. And then I think he
thought he wouldn't hear anything more about I sent to CV. So he and Louise, you know,
who is the editor of Yorkshire and also co-director? Yes, after a couple of months got in
touch and said, Yeah, you've got everything needed. And it's true. I've had a very weirdly
circuitous career compared to a lot of people. But everything I've ever done, it has added up
to this. So that happened in sort of September. And then it was just, yeah, building contacts
and assessing, you know, if there were enough people, for it to be sustainable, that we're
interested both in terms of writing and also kind of tech stuff. And yeah, so it's, and just
making some space in my life for figuring out how to do both every day. But when I youReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
know, and at the time, I thought, God, this isn't happening fast enough. And we put it off,
we're going to launch in February. And then one of the Bylines published a piece on trans
issues. And as usually happens when you set foot in that arena at the moment, there was a
kerfuffle. And they were attacked from both sides. And it was all really unpleasant. And I
said, You know what, I'd like to wait for the dust to settle on this before we launch in any
way. I mean, hello, St. David's day. So that's what we did. That's what we did. That's settled.
I mean, we're to I was I was expecting two articles from New York, for the launch from the
from the New York Welsh people and also the guy who runs the Welsh Mastodon, then to
Wales. One of them just ghosts me. And the other one said, I'm sorry, I'm not sending it after
all. We had a committee meeting, we've decided to sort of not go anywhere near Bylines
network at the moment. We're really sorry. We know you weren't involved in all that. But
yeah, so it's tricky at the moment.
James Bessant Davies 9:36
Well, my essay revolves around diminishing local reporting in Wales and under
representation of minority groups. And I'm just wondering, in your perspective, sort of what is
the role of Welsh media in shaping public perceptions of diversity and inclusion. Sorry big
Dr Rachel Morris 10:03
It is a big question. Luckily, it's one I've done a PhD on. I used to run the traveller Law
Research Unit at Cardiff law school and I was the leading expert on law relating to gipsies
and travellers. So it's something that's been on my brain for 25-30 years. And my view hasn't
changed since I wrote a piece about just that subject in 2001, which is that the media has a
responsibility to not, if not to positively spread values we would prefer to have in our society
than at least to avoid not doing the opposite. And, you know, and spreading prejudice,Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
spreading stereotyping, and that kind of thing. And not everyone agrees with that. When I,
one of my pieces of work in that unit was developing a code of conduct with what was then
the Commission for Racial Equality, for newspapers, phone how to deal with representing
gipsies and travellers. And, you know, a lot of it was about involving them. And just avoiding
the kind of the usual, you know, they still babies stuff, which was still very much in local
papers than and one of the roundtables we had about it. Michael Ignatieff was there, you
know, this great Canadian thinker, and he disagreed wildly, that the press should have any
role either way. said no, no, we're just there to report the news, whatever that news may be.
I thought it was weirdly naive of him. Because yes, it's really not that simple. So we found
that Travellers Times Magazine, which is which was handed over to the Rural Media
company in Hereford, and that's still going all these years later. And the wonderful thing
about it is the very first one we did, it was just a photocopy job from Cardiff law school,
mailroom. And all the articles were either by us in the law school or by police officers, social
workers, teachers of travellers, they were, they were by people providing services to
travellers. And it was the same, we had four national conferences, and the first one was sort
of 95%. Those people, lawyers, planners, probation officers, cetera. The fourth conference
was attended by 70% Travelling people and their organisations themselves who actually
formed a coalition that day. And I feel like that's what the media needs to work towards, both
involving every sector of society, whoever they might be in the production of news, either as
the subjects of that news, so making sure that they're involved in that or not, and they're
spoken. When they're spoken about, they're not spoken to, about who they are and spoken
for. And then also, obviously trying to get more and more people into the media who
traditionally were not. And I assume you're talking to if you haven't already, Shirish Kulkarni
because he's kind of the king of that in Wales. Like, I don't think there's, you know, you can't
talk about the medium Wales for five seconds without needing to think about Shirish. And I
think everything that they've done at the Bureau is exactly what needs to be done. And that's
going to be a tricky balance for me in at Bylines.Cymru, because essentially, I'm just an air
traffic controller, and I'm sitting here waiting for voices to come in, and then firing them upReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
into the air and hoping more and more people over time will hear those voices. But if I do
that, I'm also at risk of getting an awful lot of pieces by old white men. Because they have
the confidence to speak for themselves in that way. And they're often you know, retired
people with lots of time on their hands. So it's that balance of sitting here saying, Okay, send
me whatever if it's within the bounds of civil discourse, I'll publish it. But I also need to be
more active. So you know, I'm keep I'm always keeping my ear to the ground. So a guy
approached me can I write about MMA cage fighters? Great. Didn't know there were any
Welsh ones. Send it in. He did. And through that I found out there's a young woman who's
Wales' first female MMA cage fighter. And so you know, I tagged her when we do shared the
piece on social medias got in touch with her that way. And now I'm hoping she'll write about
her own experience. Instead of having that I write about her. Yes, it's great. It brought
attention to her but, but really, she, it'd be great if she could speak for herself, constantly
trying to do that, and really kind of micro ways, where I've just published a piece by a young
woman who is queer, who is disabled, who's overcome tremendous, like, I don't know how
she's done it, but she did a master's in filmmaking. And she's got a new documentary out on
iPlayer, and on BBC Wales to. And it's remarkable what she's overcome to be able to do
that. Now, I just happen to have met her mom and her stepdad, at George Benson concert,
seven years ago, long before any of this existed, kept in touch on Facebook. And that's how
I heard about it and reached out to her mom and said, would that be right about this? It's
amazing. But also, again, she comes from in two ways, communities that are not heard from
enough. And it's the first time she's ever written. So I gave her a fair bit of help. She did an
amazing job. And now she's gonna start a blog results. So it's that kind of, again, it's a
marathon, not a sprint, I think when you're talking about local communities speaking for
themselves, you can't just do some kind of tick box exercise, or just assume that you reach
out and then that happens overnight, it's going to take a long, long time, and spread
awareness. It's about constantly being aware that that needs to happen, remembering that
and actively doing something to make that happen by building networks. slowly building that.
And then the Reach for me there, you know, the reach getting into local communities and theReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
hyperlocal in Wales, is I had an editorial board meeting last night. And we all agreed that
that's really the priority. But also the thing that's going to take longest and then involves
things like infiltrating Facebook groups. The thing that would help me most at the moment,
which I can't do yet, is to join the local democracy reporting service, because that will give
me access to local locally implanted journalists. And that's another way in. And again, that's
not ideal because they're professionals. Yes. And I'm not really, you know, that's not
necessarily who I'm looking to write for us. Yes. But nonetheless, they're in there, and they
know what is going on. And they can find people on the ground who might be willing to write
to speak for themselves, rather than having those reporters write for them. So it's a step on
the way. Unfortunately, I can't apply to join the LDRs. It has to be done as a group, the
whole Bylines network. So it's been added to the very lengthy to do list. And I'm just like, oh,
how we'll do it. Because I think it's a really important first step. And that is all it is, it's a first
step. And people also always say, you know, make sure you get into the journalism schools
and get the journalism students involved. Absolutely. And, and I'm, and I'm working on that.
But again, those two people who are going to be professional journalists, you know, and it's
great that this would give them a proving ground. But we can understand, we're looking for
all the voice. Not just the voices that want to do this for a living. We're looking for anyone to
sing their song. And that's perhaps something they thought of before. And then the other
challenge is, you know, citizen journalism. Thanks to Elon Musk has become a dirty word.
People don't really understand what it is, but they're citizen journalism and just assume
amateur bad faith. Because he's kind of warped it lately. So we have some work to do there,
too. I think that's going to be a barrier to the local as people knowing what that means. And
understanding, you know, not letting it become a weapon in the culture wars. Yes. Yes.
James Bessant Davies 19:30
Oh, thank you very much. So what ways do you think Bylines.Cymru s is uniquely positioned
to address is local reporting in Wales?Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Dr Rachel Morris 19:52
I think simply because once people understand what our model is, yes, especially when they
can see what the rest of the network has done. I mean, Yorkshire just turned four, three or
four, four. And can see all the different people that have written for different Bylines network
on different subjects? I think there's sort of it's easier to build trust. There's no trust is trust is
such a huge thing now, isn't it when it comes to journalism, there's so little, there's so little
journalism we trust. And we're right not to. I've had my trust nocked in the last few years I
was when I look back, I was so naive until a couple of years ago, I still find myself shocked
at some of the things that the Guardian will publish, or the New Statesman will publish, I had
this kind of assumption about where they were coming from. That's no longer the case. And
so can I still trust them? You know, I'm lucky, I was educated with some critical thinking
skills. But not everyone was. I went to the launch in November at the Institute of Welsh
affairs of their report, you know, they had a pilot scheme with 15 people from Wales. And
that was really interesting hearing what the two of two of those 15 people were there that
day and hearing what they had to say about trust, and new sources and where they, where
they got their news from, and why. And then having this kind of an education process
through being on that panel, citizens panel, and how differently they approach it now. How
do you scale that up to an entire population, so that people are more thoughtful and
questioning about where they're getting their information from? I don't know. But it's
something that really needs to happen. And it's something that I hope the Welsh
Government will put more effort into, because democracy, democracy depends on it. So
yeah, it's about it's about trust. And I think there's an inherent trustworthiness built into our
very model. So that gives us a kind of unique positioning, we're not Wales Online, you know,
we have very minimal advertising, we don't do cookies and data tracking, that kind of thing.
You know, as with Byline Times. Byline Times has kind of become really, you know, quite a
success and really growing now getting their podcast and their radio and all the rest of it.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
Because of that, no advertising, no tracking no cookies, we are not owned by offshoring,
millionaires, billionaires. So that alone, I think, just the model, yes, once people understand it
gives them a feeling of trust, but then that trust also has to be earned. And I think the best
way to earn it, is to let anyone within reason, say whatever they want to say, through our
platform, but then apply a level of professionalism to it in terms of in particular fact checking.
Which I'll do twice during the process. Even as I'm uploading it, a piece to WordPress, I'll be
fact checking again, and never having a you know, just a simple thing, like a guy did a piece
the other day about cycling around Wales. And he had misspell some of the place names.
Well, that's not a good look for Welsh newspaper to be misspelling Welsh place names, you
know. I went through and double checks, you know, is there a hyphen and in this is this
probably I went back and double check the all over. So again, it can be quite granular. So on
a on a big level, what's the model? On a granular level, it's having the capacity to make sure
and when I look even at the National Wales, we this isn't widely known, but we hoovered up
their back end before that, before Newsquest took that website down. I have all our articles
that have terabytes of information from the National Wales and will republish some of those
pieces with the journalists permission from time to time. And Cyril was an amazing editor of
that newspaper. But looking through, you know, when you're on when you're on a profit
model, you don't always have the time for all that. You just have to get stuff up. And you
have to keep your advertisers happy. Yes. I don't have to publish every day. I do try and
have a new article every single day to keep the momentum going and to build our audience.
I'd like to have two or three, don't have time for that. And that's fine, because I'd rather have
one really carefully checked. article that will be interesting to someone, to some people.
Some of them are quite niche, you know piece about moss. And I know that there's a huge
moss tribe out there waiting for an article was, unless it's by Welsh person about a really
beautiful aspect of Wales get up there. Yeah, so I think that's, but I also think that were, were
unique, in terms of the local has yet to be seen and proved. as well. We have a lot to prove
still, we have a lot to achieve and a lot of connections to make them we have a lot to prove.
But it's also up to the people who write for us. So it's up to the people of Wales themselves.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
And I don't know if they're ready for that. That's my main concern. You know, we published
two, two part thing by Yes Cymru recently. And the theme really was, who cares? Who cares
enough about Wales to think that was required to become independent is their argument.
And it's overcoming that apathy. And also people are, they're busy, and the cost of living
crisis is not helpful. You know, they've got it's like a Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You know,
if you're still on the bottom row with that, trying to make sure you've fed and watered and
your house is warm, you know, you're not going to be too concerned about speaking on
some issue that's been bothering you for a while, that's not going to be your priority. And
then instead of the citizen journalism model, I mean, we stagger by on subscriptions and
donations, we can't pay writers, I'm not paid, none of us are paid. And you're asking people,
you can take a long time to write an article, you're asking them to do that for free. And at the
moment, that's, you know, that that's problematic. So there are there are those challenges
as well.
James Bessant Davies 27:14
Looking to the future, how do you hope to grow and evolve as a news platform for Welsh
news and affairs?
Dr Rachel Morris 27:25
just keep doing more of what we're doing. You know, even as we're publishing things,
keeping an eye out for who comments on that, recently had a piece where two young
women were really not into it. Oh, it's two middle fasts to what about Tiger Boehm about
this? Great right about that, you know, you're talking about a professor of English, that's not
her perspective, it's not her priority, it's clearly yours. Right about it. They haven't. But I will, I
will neck them now and again, until they do because I really want that perspective to, and
it's, and it's keeping an eye open for that. And the editorial board, which is composed ofReimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
three women and two men. One, very young one is a lot older, we're all spread out. One is
living in Europe and seeing things from that perspective two are professional journalists, two
are not, it's not as diverse as I want it to be yet, but it's pretty good for a start. And we all
agreed that's what we need to keep doing. You know, keeping our ear to the ground, if you
hear something, or you spot something, it's really exciting working that way. It's very
creative. You know, I saw a piece about the impact of Brexit on the charitable sector, the
voluntary sector in England contacted the WCVA and an up on a zoom with them for two
hours, them filling my ear that the impacts on the Welsh voluntary sector are immense, and
barely talked about. And so they give me contacts, people who are working on this, I could
write about it myself. But again, I'd rather find people in the Welsh governance centre who
know people or whatever, who they will write about it. And we'll get that issue out there. So
it's and then that someone will read that and maybe have an idea. And so it grows
organically in the way that a kind of new cycle based profit based newspaper will never really
work. It's a much more creative project. So yeah, keep doing what we're doing. And if it's not
working, find another way of doing it, but I think well, it's just gonna take time that's fine. This
is great. No one's no one's relying on us to make a profit for them. Yeah. We can take that
time. Yes. I think that's really important.Reimagining the Welsh Media Landscape: A Case for Inclusion, Diversity, and Local Reporting JB289622
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Wales Press.
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