Credit: Image by United blue on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Last month the National Union of Journalists published a report revealing that 94 per cent of UK journalists were from a white ethnic background.

Speaking at today's Polis conference, Yasmine El Rafie from Swedish Radio used the figure to illustrate the importance of journalists reaching out to people from different communities.

She said that if journalists do not report on stories of interest to a wide range of people, there is a "risk" that their content will be less relevant to the audience. And the "potential" is for "better journalism", she said.

El Rafie is a Polis fellow, carrying out research into connecting with BME communities. She shared four pointers.

1. Check forums

El Rafie said forums can be a great way to connect. She used the example of Muslim Youth Net. One of the people she spoke to for her research explained that the site for young British Muslims has a “clever way of moderation”.

She said stories rarely get picked up from such forums and there are potentially newsworthy conversations, but journalists have to participate long term to build relationships, she added.

2. Consider technology

Sources for her researches included the people behind Nigerian Watch. This helped highlight that technology is important, with different social, age and ethnic groups using different tools to talk. She said it is important to be aware, for example, that BlackBerry phones are popular within different groups, with people using BBM for their conversations.

3. Facebook groups

El Rafie said Facebook groups can be a good way to connect. For example, she said, there are Facebook groups for "refugees" in which they can share advice with each other.

4. Twitter

Journalists might think about Twitter as a place to connect with people from all backgrounds, but people frequently connect with others similar to them. El Rafie showed a visualisation of connections between groups within Sweden on Twitter and this showed "Swedish journalists and politicians follow each other – and they are far away from those other people."

She said when a hashtag is popular, often used just for fun, it is a good idea to add people who are using the hashtag to a Twitter list (it is worth noting that you do not have to follow a person to add them to a list).

She used the examples of #YouKnowYoureAsianWhen #MosqueDayMemories #AsianHouseRules #BastaBeatrice.

A final tip from El Rafie for journalists is to ensure your email address is available online so people can connect with you.

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