Reach, the UK’s largest commercial publisher, has created its first standalone training scheme to improve the diversity of its newsrooms.
The publisher said it wanted to improve representation of minority ethnic journalists and those from less privileged social classes with the new scheme, called Reach Boost.
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It will pay for journalists to train for their NCTJ diploma while in full-time employment, earning £19,000 and £20,000 once they are qualified, in the London and south east region.
Luke Jacobs, new audiences editor for the region, said the company has already put strategies in place “to rapidly improve diversity and inclusion in our content, improving our recruitment practices and becoming an inclusive and secure environment for staff from all backgrounds.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests has shown the desperate need to widen perspectives in our newsrooms and in our coverage,” he added.
“Our journalists are passionate about the areas they cover, but we can only be truly representative if we best reflect them at all levels, including entry.”
One position has already been funded in a pilot project in the region, and three more trainees “who would not normally have the opportunity to enter this industry” are now being recruited in Reach’s London, Essex and Kent newsrooms.
If the scheme is successful, Reach said it could be rolled out across more regions.
The company already sponsors the Journalism Diversity Fund while national newsbrand the Mirror partners with City University on a Widening Media Diversity Scholarship to encourage more Muslim journalists into the profession.
Reach is also recruiting for a number of other roles in London and the south east despite cutting around 550 jobs across its national and regional titles this summer in response to Covid-19 challenges.
The jobs on offer include three SEO writers, two photographers for Kent and Sussex, content editors for London, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire, and an audience editor for Surrey and Hampshire.
Reach announced earlier this week it is preparing to launch a new Buckinghamshire Live website in the region, hot on the heels of its launches for Hertfordshire, Sussex and Hampshire.
Many of the other major publishers also run training or apprenticeship schemes, although some were put on hold this year because of Covid-19.
An event hosted by the Bureau Local this month heard a warning that tackling diversity only at the bottom rung of the newsroom can look like “window dressing” and that more needs to be done to keep hold of mid-career journalists from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in particular.