A personal view By Gary Newby, News Editor at ITV News Central
Extraordinary global events have the power to change us and, maybe after the year we’ve just had, change must come if the human race is to survive for in 2020 we experienced the devastation of a pandemic and we edged closer to a terrible fate posed by climate change.
Coronavirus caused tens of thousands of deaths in the UK, left families and businesses destroyed, and saw our public health workers repeatedly risk their lives. A failure to address climate change could be more catastrophic – and irreversible.
We saw during the lockdowns how these events were linked when a sudden downturn in industrial activity saw air quality dramatically improve and smog lifted from the skylines of the world’s most polluted cities. It showed that major change can lead to quick and tangible benefits, albeit in this case an unintended and temporary one.
Change is normally slow, very slow, and this could not have been starker than in another major event of last year – the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement which highlighted injustices inflicted upon black people – not just recent generations but throughout history.
The movement inspired a need for change with individuals, groups and organisations committing to root out prejudice and to promote equality and fairness. The challenge for many this year is to sustain the momentum and ensure actions matter over good intentions.
ITV is one of many companies implementing change to increase diversity in its output and inclusion behind the cameras. At ITV News Central we’ve developed new strands such as ‘True Colours’ to give a platform to black people to tell their life experiences.
In one report about the dance industry, it was jaw-dropping to discover the prevalence of ballet’s peach-pink coloured clothing designed to give a dancer a seamless line from head to toe, unless the dancer is black. Other examples were given which showed an industry, like many, harbouring an unconscious bias – and has done so for decades at least.
Change has and does happen more quickly of course. Take the 10th anniversary of this magazine – the first in Leicester of which I’m aware to celebrate the city’s diversity and has allowed its readers to observe and learn from Leicester’s remarkable and largely successful journey toward tolerance and inclusivity.
The demand for fairness for all and the need for science to prevent both future pandemics and global annihilation from climate change have an importance and urgency far greater than at the start of 2020. The pace of change is perhaps the measure we use to judge the success of 2021. Time will tell.