Friday, June 18

At The Latest, we don’t talk diversity, we do diversity

- October 2, 2017


We have a saying at The Latest – we don’t talk diversity, we do diversity – so it is great that Bill Smith, aka Latest Bill has been short-listed for the prestigious Excellence in Diversity Award, with the winner to be announced in late November.

Why so?

Bill is known for his support of human rights, diversity and those from disadvantaged communities; a long time supporter of Amnesty and Freedom From Torture. Latest 7/Homes, Latest Music Bar and Latest TV are living examples of diversity in action.

The mission statement documents the ideal: ‘To be a respecter of and an advocate for human rights and diversity in all our programming and throughout the company’

It is the staff who live it.

All who work at The Latest make this mission statement a living reality and being short listed for such a prestigious award is a tribute to all of them.

The examples of diversity in action are too numerous to mention but our highlights since we started as Brighton’s local TV broadcaster are:

  • We founded Latest LGBT+ Television, the first daily TV channel dedicated to LGBT+ rights in 2016.
  • We employed Sophie Cook as the first transgender newscaster in Europe.
  • Our new TV programme – A Muslim and a Jew walk into……. with Yael Breuer, Runa Begum and Omar Khan….demonstrates cross cultural tolerance
  • Our own movie directed by Bill –  ‘Lynn Ruth Miller, Granny’s Gone Wild’ is a bio doc of the 80+ year old stand up comedienne, a different take on an older woman, inspirational and entertaining – well, she is!!!!
  • We recently completed a project with local charity, Little Green Pig, making TV programmes with young people from many different ethnic communities based in the disadvantaged communities of Brighton, which are in top 10% of poverty nationally, giving them a fun opportunity while helping with their literacy and self esteem. Issues in the films available on You Tube and broadcast on Latest TV were grooming, self harm, bullying, and harassment.
  • The Latest is a perfect example of diversity, containing all nationalities, young and old, LGBT+ BME/BAME and people with disability and we actively teach many young people on work experience or at our Brighton TV Academy or as volunteers. All are welcome.
  • Diversity is at the top of the agenda for all news and current affairs programmes broadcast on Latest TV. We want to transform the world, which is why we covered the political festival, The World Transformed with new media innovators, Novara.
  • Every opportunity is given to community groups, local democracy bodies and minority groups to share their views.
  • Back in the 80’s The Punter magazine, run by the late Tony Miller and Bill, the forerunner of Latest Homes and Latest 7. featured diverse columns – one of the first magazines to have regular LGB columns which although legal following the decriminalisation of homosexuality, was brave and innovative with the climate in the country still very hostile.

What difference does it all make? What’s the impact on our community:

  • Brighton is a city known for its liberal views and as a key media business in the city with TV and magazines, it is hugely important that we support and encourage that diversity. At The Latest, we are known as excellent role models for supporters of human rights. Bill says, “Brighton is an island of sanity in an ocean of intolerance –  don’t you mean insanity Bill!!” 
  • Our LGBT+ channel reach is over 100,000 people weekly. Recent surveys show that the viewership is across all sexual orientations, and the increase in profile has been welcomed by the LGBT+ community with much support on the social media platforms. When the channel launched we received positive reports from all over the world including Turkey and Russia. As far as we know we are the ONLY channel showing LGBT films every week. Tales from the Margins, co-ordinated by Rainer Schulze includes films from all over the world including films made by people in states where LGBT filmmaking is a life threatening thing.
  • Sophie Cook, our transgender newscaster has thousands of followers on her social media pages. Although unfortunately she receives some hostile abuse, the majority of postings are positive and promote tolerance
  • The project with the young people in our disadvantaged communities was assessed and showed an increase in confidence and self esteem for the 14 young people involved. The end production that they created was aired on Latest TV giving the young people, their families and their communities a sense of pride in the achievement.
  • The feedback from viewers of the film Granny’s Gone Wild has demonstrated a positive view of older women and has been inspirational showing a role model that is based on doing and achieving no matter what your age or gender.

In parallel with his Latest day job, Bill has written many TV programmes. Stage plays and a fair few albums and a musical, notably including ‘This Way to the Gas, a musical set in Auschwitz and Darfur performed by The Life And Death Orchestra in Brighton, Edinburgh and London to great critical acclaim.

Bill has always supported people regardless of age or race or creed – whatever!

We believe that all people are born free and equal and so our maxim is Live And Let Live!

Fingers crossed for November that Bill and The Latest are the winners.

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