Media industry leaders gather to celebrate Journalism Diversity Fund

Leading journalists, editors and industry professionals from across the UK, celebrated alongside bursary recipients and their tutors on Thursday, 22 September to celebrate the achievements of the people the fund has helped get into journalism.

The reception, hosted by the London Evening Standard was attended by 65 guests at Northcliffe House in London. Doug Wills, managing editor of the London Evening Standard and The Independent welcomed guests to the event.

Representing NLA media access, Alex Bannister, group managing editor, Associated Newspapers, presented Kim Fletcher, chairman of the NCTJ with a cheque for £100,000 to continue the work of the diversity fund.

Gemma Stevenson and Shruti Sheth who received bursaries in 2015-16 spoke about how the fund helped to kick-start their careers in journalism. Gemma, who was the first winner of the Thomas Read bursary studied her sports journalism MA at St Mary’s University and is currently working her way through the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme.

She told guests how the Journalism Diversity Fund had made a difference to her, saying: “Here I am now having gone full circle from the nine-year-old girl, who had her first piece of writing published on the BBC Newsround page and now a 30-year-old woman working in the BBC newsroom full time.

“I firmly believe it would have been a lot harder to achieve this without the support of the NCTJ, the Read Family and all of the other supporters I have had in my corner this year.”

Fellow recipient Shruti Sheth was awarded funds for her to study a fast-track diploma at Lambeth College. Shruti has now been employed by the Bucks Free Press as a reporter.

Addressing the guests at Northcliffe House she said: “I’ve had seven front pages since I started at the Bucks Free Press in April, which is more than I could ever have dreamed of or imagined in my first few months as a trainee. This is all thanks to the NCTJ training I had, which was, of course, made possible thanks to the JDF. I will be eternally grateful to the JDF for gifting me this chance to bring my life experiences and views to the newsroom.”

Applications for the final 2016-17 cohort of the Journalism Diversity Fund close Wednesday, 16 November. Applicants can be sixth-formers, graduates or mature students, but they must have applied to an NCTJ-accredited course and have a genuine need for a bursary.