The objective was simple enough: find the 100 Prolific Northerners, whoever or wherever they may be, and stick them in a list.
The reality was somewhat more complicated.
We wanted to identify the North’s leading media and creative industry figures, but the questions stacked up. Where should the industry boundaries be drawn? Should it be ranked? Is one man’s leading industry figure another man’s irrelevance? What’s the definition of “leading”? Is influence more important than power? And so on.
In the end, we decided to combine the forces of several judges, readers’ suggestions and our own investigations and hope we got somewhere approaching our original aim.
Now the process is complete, we’re happy that our top 100 – whittled down agonisingly from a longlist of 274 – represents as accurate a reflection of our landscape in July 2014 as we could have hoped for. Of course, were we to repeat the exercise next month – even next week – the list could look slightly different.
For what was the first list of its type, however, we think we’ve had a good go.
So what of the 100 in the list? As one of the chosen has already pointed out on Twitter, 97% are white and 73% male (there are actually 30 women on the list in total). In 21st century Britain, those are statistics that jar somewhat.
It goes without saying that race, gender or any other similar criteria was not a factor in the process, and neither did we attempt to introduce a “quota” system that perhaps could have delivered a more representative century.
Our purpose was merely to reflect the current scene, and for better or worse, that’s what we have done. It is very much for others to decide how to ensure that the next list is more reflective of modern-day media in the North of England.
Digging into the results
Neither was location a predetermined factor. It’s a 73/27 split between those Northerners who are based in the North West and those who are based in Yorkshire and the North East. Fair? Again, that’s for others to debate over.
Digging down a bit, there are 28 from Manchester, 20 from Leeds and 8 from Liverpool. Of perhaps no surprise is the increased importance of Salford as a geographic hub – 27 on the list are based there – as it is of course the home of MediaCityUK. With yet more BBC roles to move up there over the next year, the trend is likely to continue.
Helped by the arrival of MediaCityUK, the most common sector on the list is broadcasting and production, with 42 Northerners involved in that part of the industry. Twenty work in digital, 16 in publishing and two in gaming.
We hope to do more ‘Northerners’ list in the future, perhaps focusing more on particular industry verticals. Last week’s Prolific Northerners list is already one of our best-read articles of the whole year, but whether it entertained, educated or infuriated you, we hope you’ll at least agree it confirms just what depth of talent we now have in our region.