Diversity fund to help 19 budding journalists pay for their training

Nineteen hopefuls will have the chance to pursue a career in journalism after they were awarded bursaries by the Journalism Diversity Fund on Friday, 13 August. The successful applicants from across the UK were interviewed by four separate panels of experienced media professionals at the Financial Times in London.

The fund, which was set up in 2005 to bring more diversity to UK newsrooms, has now helped 95 students pay course fees and living expenses during their journalism training. The latest bursary recipients were chosen by panel members with backgrounds ranging from newspapers and magazines to radio and TV broadcasting.

They included Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors; Vijay Sharma, head of the BBC Asian network; Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ; Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC news correspondent; Haroon Siddique, news reporter at the Guardian; Marverine Cole, freelance journalist and TV presenter; James Geary, editor of Ode magazine; Dotun Adebayo, presenter for BBC Radio Five Live; and Julian Kossoff, senior editor at Telegraph.co.uk.

When asked about the interview day, Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC news correspondent, said it had been really inspiring to meet people from such diverse backgrounds who all had different stories to tell. “It really hit home what diversity is all about and it was great to meet people who are incredibly passionate about getting into what is such a competitive profession. I thought the day was inspiring, and actually rather humbling.”

Haroon Siddique, a news reporter at the Guardian, said it was rewarding to meet budding journalists who were so enthusiastic about the profession, despite all the dire predictions about the future of the industry. “Their passion really shone through, with many of them having already overcome challenging personal and/or social circumstances to make it to this stage.

“Journalism can be a very cynical business, but the interviewees' stories of what made them choose it as a career were inspiring and a valuable reminder of what makes the job so great," he said.

 The 19 students chosen for bursaries will begin their NCTJ-accredited courses in September at Glasgow Caledonian University; Liverpool Community College; News Associates London and Manchester; noSWeat Journalism Training; The Sheffield College, Norton College; University of Central Lancashire; University of Salford; University of Sheffield; University of Sunderland; and University of Ulster.

Bursary recipient Selena Gray, who will be studying with noSWeat Journalism Training, was a trainee on an ‘introduction to journalism’ programme with Catch 22 Academy, a social enterprise that supports aspiring young journalists, aged 18-30, who find themselves in difficult situations. The academy also helped Christine Fashugba, who was awarded a bursary earlier this year. Catch 22 will be working in partnership with the Journalism Diversity Fund to help create more opportunities in journalism for people from a variety of backgrounds.

All 19 recipients are invited to the Journalism Diversity Fund celebratory lunch at the Daily Mail in London on Thursday, 23 September. They will be joined by past bursary recipients from 2009 and those awarded a bursary earlier this year. The interview and shortlist panel members are also invited to the reception, along with industry-wide supporters of the fund.

In total, 56 aspiring journalists applied for a bursary before the deadline on Friday, 30 June. Brian Dodds, editor, Harborough Mail, and Colin Channon, editor, Chichester Observer, helped to shortlist the 26 applicants who were invited for an interview.

Application forms for the next group of bursaries, which must be received by Friday, 29 October, can be found here. Applicants can be sixth-formers, undergraduates or mature students, but they must have applied to an NCTJ-accredited course starting in early 2011 or later and have a genuine need for a bursary. The shortlisting panel will be looking for those who can demonstrate how they would bring a diverse voice to the newsroom and whether they have the commitment and potential to succeed as a journalist.

For further information about the Journalism Diversity Fund, please visit www.journalismdiversityfund.com. If you would like to know more about the Catch 22 Academy, their website is www.catch22mag.com.