A Cabinet Office report published yesterday has highlighted concerns about the lack of social mobility in the professions with journalism one of the industries focused on.
According to the report by Alan Milburn, 54% of top journalists had attended private school (2006 report) and that 49% of journalism degree students in 2010/11 came from the top-three socio-economic classes, indicating a “shift towards social exclusivity”.
However the report also mentioned that “many in the industry are concerned about that trend and are working hard to reverse it.” The National Council for the Training of Journalists is one organisation that has been working hard, with the support of the industry, to increase diversity through the administration of the Journalism Diversity Fund and chief executive Joanne Butcher has written to Alan Milburn about the essential work the fund is doing.
Since its launch, the Journalism Diversity Fund has been helping to increase both social and ethnic diversity in the media industry through the provision of bursaries.
A total of 118 students have received help funding their NCTJ journalism training, with more being interviewed at the moment. Some have received assistance with their course fees, while others have also been awarded living costs. £578,623 worth of funding has been distributed since 2006/7 and past recipients are now working for broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Sky Sports News; national newspapers including The Guardian and The Independent; and regional newspapers such as the Surrey Advertiser, Stoke Sentinel and Wandsworth Guardian.
The Journalism Diversity Fund is an industry fund, supported by the Newspaper Licensing Agency, The Scott Trust Ltd and Associated Newspapers, and is now extending into all media.
The fund has received 776 applications from students and has seen a steady increase each year culminating in the largest ever number of applicants for the first cohort of 2012. Applications are shortlisted and then interviewed by panels of working journalists to determine who will be successful. These panellists, who work for the national and regional press, TV and radio, volunteer their time and expertise to help the fund. Each application is judged on its own merit.
The report also highlighted the growth of unpaid internships and extended work experience placements, commenting that only the wealthy could afford to work for nothing in this way. The NCTJ encourages students not to accept lengthy placements and has published guidelines that are distributed to students and trainees