The Journalism Diversity Fund is much more than a bursary

Undertaking my NCTJ training always felt like the logical next step for me after graduating from Edinburgh University.

Matthew Ford

As the most common pathway into the industry and, having been offered a place on the multimedia sports journalism course at News Associates, I was adamant I wouldn’t delay embarking on my dream career in the journalism industry.

But funding it would be another unwelcome headache, particularly off the back of four loan-heavy years of undergraduate study.

That’s where I was put in touch with the Journalism Diversity Fund and I was amazed to find such a great, progressive initiative aimed at helping people from all backgrounds with their studies.

After checking my eligibility, I was delighted to be shortlisted for an interview at Bloomberg’s building in London and I was even more ecstatic to learn I had been offered a bursary – both for my course fees and for travel to and from London.

It commenced what has been an amazing rollercoaster over the past nine months where my skill-set and contacts book have continually grown under the kind guidance of the NCTJ.

The scheme has opened doors – starting with tours of the Daily Mail and Financial Times in July, followed by a massive celebratory event in September where past and present bursary holders were invited to Bloomberg for a day of networking.

This, combined with the quality of teaching and opportunities provided at News Associates, are the reason I am sitting in the current position I am, ready to take my first steps in this exciting industry.

Quite frankly I simply would not have been in any sort of shape to commence my NCTJ diploma as quickly as I was were it not for the tremendous generosity of the NCTJ, the JDF and their various partners.

But the JDF is much more than just an invaluable bursary, it is a network of people from similar and different backgrounds united by a common interest.

A monthly check-in enables both you and the NCTJ to keep tabs of your progress and they are there to support you every step of the way.

There is a beneficial mentoring scheme that pairs you with an individual currently working in your area of interest who is there to provide advice, help and guidance on everything from applications to work experience opportunities.

It cannot be overstated how important this is during such intensive studies, providing opportunities for reflection and encouragement when things get difficult (I’m looking at you shorthand!)

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the assistance I have had and to join hundreds like me who have been helped by the JDF since it started in 2005.

The NCTJ are a great source of encouragement when it comes to applying for jobs and I can credit my new role to having undertaken my studies at News Associates and the JDF bursary.

I am delighted to say I landed a job with Sky Sports News after an intensive interview and assessment process.

But had it not been for the good fortune of landing the bursary last summer, I might never have been afforded the chance to take on such an exciting role.

It is thanks to the NCTJ, the JDF and News Associates that I will shortly begin my dream job.

Matthew Ford

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