“Journalism Diversity Fund helped kick-start enjoyable career to be proud of,” says senior reporter

Past bursary recipients Chinwe Akomah and Sam Smith yesterday paid tribute to the work of the Journalism Diversity Fund at an annual reception to celebrate its success.

Chinwe spoke of how the fund helped kick-start an enjoyable career to be proud of: “Without the Journalism Diversity Fund, I would not be a journalist today. I wouldn’t be able to walk into a room full of people and say ‘yes, I’m a hack and I’m proud of it’ and I certainly wouldn’t have all the anecdotes I have now: I have met some amazing people.”

Sam, who secured a trainee reporter position at the Brentwood Gazette shortly after completing his course with News Associates, said: “I spent two years after university trying to get as much journalistic experience as possible. At one stage I had seven jobs and was only just able to make ends meet! Without the diversity fund I would not have been able to afford my NCTJ course and build upon my previous experience.

“I am of course indebted and very grateful to the Journalism Diversity Fund and its sponsors for the support they have given me to enable me to progress in my career.”

 

More than 60 people attended the reception, hosted by Robin Esser, executive managing editor of the Daily Mail. Kim Fletcher (far right), chairman of the NCTJ, accepted a £100,000 donation on behalf of the Journalism Diversity Fund from David Pugh (right), managing director of the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

Speaking about the ongoing support from the NLA, which has so far helped 94 would-be journalists with their training, David said:

“By the end of 2010, the NLA will have contributed over half a million pounds to the Journalism Diversity Fund since its launch in 2005. We, and the newspapers we represent, are proud to have supported the training of just under 100 journalists in that time.”

The event gave this year’s bursary recipients a chance to meet and network with supporters of the fund. Those who attended were:

 

·   Roshan Adam; University of Sunderland

·   Lalita Augustine; Glasgow Caledonian University

·   Graeme Benson; Sheffield College, Norton College

·   Ben Bostock; Cardiff University

·   Christian Campbell; University of Central Lancashire

·   Catherine Clifford; Glasgow Caledonian University

·   Emma Clifford; Glasgow Caledonian University

·   Tamsin Eames; News Associates, Manchester

·   Christine Fashugba; Lambeth College

·   Selena Gray; noSWeat Journalism Training

·   Martin Harkin; University of Ulster

·   Katy McCloskey; Glasgow Caledonian University

·   Zabirjid Mustefa; Press Association, London

·   Katey Pigden; Cardiff University

·   Melvin Rao; University of Central Lancashire

·   Georgina Satchell; University of Salford

·   Laura Shack; Liverpool Community College

 

Past students, who have recently completed NCTJ-accredited courses and are now ambassadors for the fund, were also invited. Many have already begun their careers as trainee reporters on regional newspapers and were able to share their experiences with those starting courses this year.

Industry-wide supporters of the fund who came to celebrate its success and meet bursary recipients past and present included Dotun Adebayo, presenter for BBC Radio Five Live; Benedict Brogan, deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph; Kurt Barling, special correspondent at BBC London News; and Haroon Siddique, news reporter at the Guardian. All were there in support of the fund’s aim to increase diversity in UK newsrooms and many expressed their own ideas about how to raise awareness about it.

After two years as a trainee reporter at the Congleton Chronicle, Chinwe, who passed her NCE in March, is about to start her new job at News Team International in Birmingham. She said: “Friday was my last day at the Chronicle, after two years and four patches, and although I’ve been shouted at and threatened with legal action – of course I was well within the law each time – I can’t imagine doing anything else. I really can’t. And that’s down to the Journalism Diversity Fund. So thank you.” To find out more about what past bursary recipients are doing now please click here.

The deadline for applications to the Journalism Diversity Fund for courses beginning in 2011 is Friday, 29 October. 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. Please click here to find out more information.