A Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) bursary recipient has been named in an Outstanding 100 Future Leaders Role Model list for her contribution to LGBTQ+ journalism.
PinkNews reporter Sophie Perry founded the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network, a community space where journalists connect, share advice, find support and highlight wins, job opportunities and more.
After launching on social media, the Network attracted more than 100 members in its first week and is now more than 300 strong.
It was commended at the 2022 NCTJ Awards for Excellence for the equality, diversity and inclusion award.
The 100 Future Leaders Role Model list, produced by Involve’s Outstanding and supported by YouTube, showcases a range of LGBTQ+ business leaders and allies around the world who are breaking down barriers and creating more inclusive workplaces.
Sophie, who used the Journalism Diversity Fund bursary to study the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism at City of Wolverhampton College from September 2020 to June 2021, said it felt “bonkers” to be included on the list.
“I look at everyone else on the list and they work all over the world, in places like Shanghai or Hong Kong, and then there’s me who grew up on a council estate in Wolverhampton,” she said.
“I was dreading looking at my emails after two weeks on holiday and it was nice to see this one (confirming her place on the list) near the top.”
She added: “As governments around the world continue to crackdown on LGBTQ+ lives with draconian laws, anti-queer hate crimes rocket and the media pushes misinformation about the community, accurate reporting which centres LGBTQ+ voices is more important than ever.”
Sophie praised Dani Wozencroft, who led her course at City of Wolverhampton College, for her help and support in achieving her NCTJ qualification during the Covid pandemic.
“I think she’s an amazing tutor and I am still in contact with her – she tried to make online learning as engaging as possible.”
The 27-year-old has worked at PinkNews since January 2023, and was previously a digital reporter at The Oxford Mail.
She said: “Journalism is one of those industries where it can be who you know, not what you know, and coming from a working-class background, all the contacts I have are people I met off my own bat. But if I can stop other people coming from working class or less privileged backgrounds from having to do that, I will.”
The Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) awards bursaries to people from diverse backgrounds who need help funding their NCTJ journalism training.
Recipients are also paired with a working journalist as a mentor.
It aims to break down barriers for people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering journalism.
Sophie said: “I firmly believe journalism can only bring about real change if the people telling the stories – including leaders in the media sector – represent those who are reading them.”
The NCTJ interviewed Sophie for International Women’s Day 2022. Read that story here.
Read more about the NCTJ’s research into the characteristics of UK journalists in our annual Diversity in Journalism report, here.
Find out more about the JDF here.