Efforts to counter the lack of economic and ethnic diversity in journalism were recognised at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House yesterday as the boradcaster hosted recipients of the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund.
Launched in 2005, the fund has so far helped 174 recipients to start careers in journalism by paying course fees and living expenses. The Newspaper Licensing Agency, which collects royalties from press cuttings agencies and other sources, handed over a cheque for £100,000 to the fund.
BBC managing editor for news Keith Blackmore said: “Journalism has never been more under attack. We have to find talent from the widest possible pool without restrictions of any sort and this admirable fund run by the NCTJ is a very good start that aims to improve the industry.”
He cited the example of Katy McCloskey, a senior broadcast journalist for the BBC in Glasgow, who got her start in journalism thanks to help from the fund.
After losing both her parents at a young age, McCloskey said she never could have afforded to train to be a journalist without help from the fund – which helped her get on a journalism course at university.
He said she told him: “Without the bursary I would not have been able to be a journalist, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that the stories I have told would not have been covered and we need stories from all walks of life.
Bursary recipient Layth Yousif told how he grew up on a council estate and was one of only six people in his year at school to go to university.
After university he said he wrote to 100 different publications to enquire about work and did not get a single reply.
He said: “It took me another 20 years to realise that what I should have done was write another 100 letters.”
After "falling into" investment banking, “back office stuff”, he decided to give himself a year to get into journalism (with a wife and young family by this stage).
He said he never could have afforded to train without help from the Journalism Diversity Fund and now works as a reporter at the Bedford Times and Citizen.
He said: “I don’t have that Sunday night feeling any more. I love every minute of it – from covering council meetings to Bedford’s biggest sunflower. I love what I do, it’s changed my life.”