Two journalists who started their careers with the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund have this week achieved senior status by passing the National Certificate Examination.
Chinwe Akomah, 23, of the Congleton Chronicle, and Jennifer Coombes, 26, of the Ilford Recorder, were among the first aspiring journalists to be awarded bursaries from the Journalism Diversity Fund in 2007.
Editors recognise it is vital that journalists reporting the news reflect the communities they serve and the Journalism Diversity Fund was set up in 2006 by those in the industry who want to support the training of journalists from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds.
The fund helped Chinwe and Jennifer with course fees and living expenses. Chinwe completed the postgraduate diploma in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and Jennifer completed an MA in journalism at the University of Sheffield.
Now both journalists have passed the NCTJ’s senior examination and both say they would not be journalists without the vital help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.
Jennifer Coombes said: “I’m certain I would not have got this far without the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.
“The boost it gave me to get the bursary in the first place inspired me, when you think someone else thinks you are good enough to make it as a journalist, it really gives you that extra push.
“The support from the Newspaper Licensing Agency and the NCTJ that came with the bursary helped me so much, I was helped to get good work experience and it was really appreciated.
“Today I’m just enjoying having passed my NCE, but I’m definitely going to keep on working as a journalist in the future. I would absolutely urge young people to apply to the fund it really helped me and it could help you.”
Chinwe Akomah said: “Without the fund I would not have been able to take my postgraduate degree and sit the NCTJ preliminary Certificate in Journalism. I did not have any money and my parents did not have any money.
“I would not have started my career and I would not have got my job, it is all down to the Journalism Diversity Fund.
“Now that I’m a senior journalist I have so many opportunities, I’m going to look at working in senior positions in the national press and magazines. I love my job, I love the challenge, I love talking to readers, there is nothing about it I don’t like.
“I would urge young reporters to apply to the fund, if you are passionate about journalism but don’t have the resources to pursue a journalism career, then the Journalism Diversity Fund is the ideal solution to that problem.”
The next deadline for applications to the Journalism Diversity Fund is Friday, 30 April.
An application form and further information about the Journalism Diversity Fund can be found at www.journalismdiversityfund.com