Media Powerlist: Not from Oxbridge? Good luck running the media

January 18, 2019

Over a fifth of all directors of top media companies went to Oxford or Cambridge, data collected by Leeds Hacks shows.

By Katie Lyons

According to research, bosses of the biggest media organisations studied at the countries top universities, for instance, Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge) or international universities such as Harvard and Yale.

The research was conducted out of 90 CEO’s, secretaries and directors from the UK’s most profitable media organisations. Each who had their past education publicly available. The majority of them studied down south as close to London as possible. Apart from the international directors who mainly studied at Harvard, Yale or the University of New York.

Most headquarters are based in the capital, so the connections from studying at a university close to London is going to be beneficial. However, there was only a small percentage of directors who are involved with the media corporations who studied at a university in the North of England.

Leeds Hacks got in touch with the BBC and they gave their statistics for their senior leadership staff socio-economic background (school type) distribution by division from 2018, and in Network News out of 242 staff members, 87 of them went to private school in secondary education.

This is deemed to give aspiring journalists who want to work in the media a step back from students who studied at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. An example is Rupert Murdoch. He studied at Oxford and is one of the most successful men in the media industry. Murdoch owns more than 30 newspapers in the United States, Australia, and in the United Kingdom.

The graph shows out of 90 directors over a fifth went to either Oxford or Cambridge and a large majority went to a couple of the worlds top universities outside the UK. Although there was a high percentage out of the 90 who studied away from London, there was only six from the North of England and half of them studying in Scotland at a Russell group university.

 ‘I got where I am because of who I know’

Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence Murdoch did not go to university but is currently a board member of Times Newspaper Ltd.

Lee Clayton who is head of Talksport said ‘I got the job I have thanks to my Dad.’ He previously just left his role as head of sport at the Daily Mail.

“I started off as a rookie and now look where I am. I don’t have any qualifications under my belt but I got where I am because of who I know and who my dad knew.”

Some directors did not study a degree in journalism in the media but business studies instead. Oxbridge has an exclusivity, it can be that it doesn’t matter what you study but that you went to Oxford or Cambridge.

The chart shows, that between Oxford and Cambridge, Oxford produced a higher percentage of students who pursued a career as a director for big corporations such as the Daily Mail which is currently the most profitable media ownership.

Oxbridge hasn’t produced the overall highest statistic, however, in perspective, they come close to all the universities excluding London. There are around 130 universities in the UK and Oxbridge are the two most active universities producing directors in the media.

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