Five talented student journalists will benefit from exclusive networking opportunities, invaluable newsroom placements and further mentoring as this year’s recipients of the NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) specialist bursaries.
The JDF – through which bursaries are awarded to people from diverse backgrounds who need help funding their NCTJ journalism training – offers specialist bursaries thanks to the support of the following partners.
A family-run charitable foundation, the Aziz Foundation awards bursaries throughout each year to successful JDF applicants who identify as British Muslim and who are engaged with Muslim communities in the UK.
Aniqah Majid, Shaheena Uddin and Murthaza Ali-Hassan are the first to receive Aziz Foundation bursaries in 2023.
Aniqah, who has been a reporter in the business and financial sector for two years, is completing a fast-track NCTJ course with PA Training.
She said: “This is an incredible honour and one that I was not expecting. With this support from the Aziz Foundation, I will do my best as a journalist to uphold the values of the Muslim community and spotlight our stories.”
Shaheena is studying the multimedia journalism diploma at News Associates, while also running the Muslim Journalists Connect network and her own podcast.
“I feel very honoured to be part of a movement to improve Muslim representation within the media landscape,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the support of the Aziz Foundation in kick-starting my early career and helping me break down barriers in the industry.”
Interested in local news, politics, technology, arts and culture, Murthaza said: “With the support of the Aziz Foundation, I hope to produce great work that speaks to what journalism is about fundamentally.
“Bringing awareness to lesser discussed things and bringing people together.”
Aziz Foundation trustee Rahima Aziz praised the three successful candidates: “These three individuals were chosen in light of their clear engagement with and understanding of the British Muslim community, an evidenced hunger to succeed, and unique potential to better the perceptions of British Muslims in journalism.”
This bursary was set up in partnership with the family of the late Sky Sports News journalist Thomas Read, who died unexpectedly in 2015, aged 25.
He had cerebral palsy, and the bursary is awarded to successful JDF applicants who have a long-term illness, health problem or disability.
This year the bursary has been awarded to Laura Howard, and she will benefit from a work experience opportunity at Sky Sports News.
She said: “It’s a great honour and will certainly support me in my aspirations to build a career in journalism.
“I also hope I can use the help from the bursary to continue to give increased and better media coverage to underrepresented groups.”
Laura, who has autism, is studying the MA sports journalism course at St Mary’s University in Twickenham.
Her work so far has featured women’s football, disability hockey, and issues around heteronormative sports kit.
Thomas’ mother Carolyn Read said: “At her interview we were all very impressed with Laura’s positive attitude, her determination to succeed and her passion and enthusiasm for a career in sports journalism.”
In November, the NCTJ team raised more than £5,000 for the Thomas Read bursary by teaming up with Fitness Focus gyms in Essex and travelling over 1,000km in one day. Find out more about the fundraiser here.
Football Writers’ Association
The FWA came on board as a supporter of the JDF last year to help those who have an interest in sports journalism.
Its bursary offer includes membership to its mentorship scheme and access to its network of over 800 journalists and broadcasters.
Japtej Ghura, who aspires to be a role model for Asians in sports journalism and is working towards his sports multimedia diploma with PA Training, is this year’s recipient of the bursary.
He said: “I can’t wait to make full use of the bursary and mentorship and hopefully go on to make great strides in the industry.”
Paul McCarthy, chairman of the FWA, said: “Japtej has already taken the first steps in the industry and his desire and hunger to improve and explore so many different areas of the job singled him out.”
For more information about the JDF, click here.