Young Exposure journalist makes the news with CNN

August 4, 2023

Photo by Kerrie Portman

Kerrie Portman is selected for news channel’s Diversity Open Day

Ever felt like the news industry was only for CisHetMen? Think again. At the end of June I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the participants of CNN’s Diversity Open Day. The opportunity, first running in 2014, is for those from groups underrepresented in the news world, including people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, those with disabilities, neurodiverse people, and minority ethnic groups.

During our day, we got to create a show entirely from scratch, starting our day by pitching news stories and ending it with a viewing party. It was a really engaging and rewarding experience. It felt like the real deal, not a tokenistic write-off, good only for self-congratulations and neo-puritanism virtue signalling.

I felt like I was actually working in a newsroom, with all the rush, adrenaline and sense of achievement from creating something.

The story my group was working on was about the approval of human trials on the first AI generated drug. After the pitch ideas were confirmed and groups were assigned, the first step was learning enough about the topic to be able to confidently report on it and why it was newsworthy. Then came contacting related professionals, companies and charities.

Projects like this, that open access to different industries, are incredibly important as they widen access in a meaningful way

We were lucky enough to get a response from the company in charge of this groundbreaking innovation; Insilico Medicine. From there, we gathered images and footage to use. One member of the team was trained in editing, I was trained as a Producer and we went on set to film the show. The production room, where I was based, was filled with dozens of screens and excitingly, intimidating buttons. Filming was pseudo-live, not going to air but being filmed as though it was. It was a rush.

Projects like this, that open access to different industries, are incredibly important as they widen access in a meaningful way.

As a disabled queer Care Leaver from a low socio-economic background, I’ve faced discrimination and rejection because of the stereotypes and systematic discrimination of people like me. I see this happening to many, many, many others who don’t fit into the neat wealthy white cisgender, heterosexual male box.

That’s never been okay but is especially not in 2023. When society is advanced enough to have AI generate drugs safe enough to start human trials, it needs to be advanced enough to not discriminate and gatekeeper industries. Projects like CNN’s Diversity Open Day help bring that a little closer to being reality.

I am very grateful to be given this amazing opportunity.

Kerrie is an autistic care leaver, her love of writing originating from the desire to raise awareness of discriminatory practices in social care. This led to her main writing accomplishments, including two published articles in The Guardian and co-authoring a chapter of the book: ‘COVID-19 and Co-production in Health and Social Care Research, Policy, and Practice, Volume 2: Co-production Methods and Working Together at a Distance’. As Kerrie’s love of writing grew, it expanded to most topics and she has also guest-written articles for Ambitious About Autism, National Student Pride, iReader, Heroica, Wearewriteous and North Hertfordshire Pride.

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