Trainees applaud the life-changing power of the Journalism Diversity Fund

Two aspiring journalists praised the power of the Journalism Diversity Fund at a celebratory reception and lunch attended by senior editors and journalists who support the fund’s work.

Guardian News and Media today hosted the annual celebratory lunch of the Journalism Diversity Fund at The Guardian in Kings Place. The fund aims to increase diversity in newsrooms by awarding bursaries to aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds applying to NCTJ accredited courses.

Kim Fletcher, NCTJ chairman, welcomed invited guests to the event and on behalf of the Journalism Diversity Fund accepted a donation of £100,000 from David Pugh, managing director of the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

Kim said: “More than anything we want journalists to reflect the people they write about. The Journalism Diversity Fund is a wonderful enterprise by the whole of the journalism industry, seeing the need for change and responding to that need.”

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief, Guardian News and Media, also spoke at the lunch on behalf of sponsors the Scott Trust, which last year donated £25,000 to the fund.

Alan said: “I think there has been uneasiness for some time in the industry. Something happened about 20 years ago, journalism became a profession of middle class graduates. Editors became aware that journalism had become too restrictive and asked what could the industry do about it?

“The work the Journalism Diversity Fund is doing is vital, this change is not going to happen unless we get the help of the whole industry, the status quo will always win through.”

Supporters then heard from to two young people who last year received fund bursaries; Eimhear O’Neill, who now works as an investigative reporter for television production company Below the Radar; and Christina Johnson, now working with the NCTJ as an intern helping to promote the Journalism Diversity Fund, before embarking on a journalism career.

Christina said: “As a recipient of the fund last year I found it an amazing help and without it, I would have found it extremely tough to complete my training in journalism.

“Journalism is a popular career choice and competition for jobs is high, editors want diverse newsrooms, but there’s a major shortage of ethnic and socially deprived applicants.

“The fund trains talented people from ethnic or socially diverse communities to meet this need and by promoting the fund to a wider audience we will be able to help redress the imbalance in newsrooms today.”

New recipients of the fund also attended the event. Sharanpreet Bajwa, Mark Elliott, Amanda Hall, Sophie Maden, Glenn McMahon, Carl Rose, Paul Smith, Sam Smith, Nicola Williams and India Adams are now all studying NCTJ accredited journalism training courses and mingled with journalists at the lunch.

Among the senior journalists who attended the event were Hugh Carnegy, executive editor of the Financial Times, Ed Curran, editor-in-chief of the Belfast Telegraph and Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ.