Training body launches bursary for students to take up 'life-changing' but unpaid placements

The UK’s broadcast training accreditation body is launching a new bursary for students who might otherwise be forced to turn down “life-changing” industry placements, which are often unpaid.

The Broadcast Journalism Training Council is teaming up with the Google News Initiative, BBC and ITV News to offer up to 250 students who meet its social diversity criteria £200 each next year.

The body said such placements can be “crucial” to help young people find their first job in journalism, but that students are often left out of pocket due to the costs of transport, accommodation and lost earnings.

BJTC chief executive Jon Godel (pictured) said: “The BJTC recognises the importance of industry placements in the career development of journalists, and for this reason it’s an essential element of the professional training standards our accredited courses are subject to.

“But we also recognise that such placements can create a financial burden for many students, and we don’t want to see anyone unable to take up a life-changing career opportunity because of a lack of funds.”

The launch of BJTC’s Placement Assistance Scheme comes soon after Press Pad, a scheme aiming to “diversify the media”, surpassed its crowdfunding target of £30,000.

It matches unpaid media interns who need accommodation for the duration of the placement with senior journalists who can offer a spare room, and the money donated will allow it  to hire a co-ordinator and cope with more participants.

Press Pad’s founder Olivia Crellin told Press Gazette she wanted to remove the high costs of getting a foot in the door of the journalism industry.

Social mobility charity The Sutton Trust estimated last year that the cost of undertaking an unpaid internship in London is more than £1,000 per month.

The Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation report in 2016 found that 11 per cent of journalists were from a working class background compared to 60 per cent of Britons overall.

It said the “main cause of lack of diversity” in the UK media industry was as an “increasing reliance on unpaid work as a point of entry to the profession”.

More than 80 per cent of new entrants to journalism had done an internship, it said, of which 92 per cent were unpaid.

Guy Phillips, editor of ITV regional news, said he hoped the BJTC’s scheme would “help to expand the pool of talent we see coming into our newsrooms and, indeed, into the wider television industry”.

“It is important that every aspiring journalist has the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and to make their mark,” he said.

Katie Lloyd, BBC News development director and director of BBC Young Reporter, added: “Diversity in our newsrooms is a top priority for us.

“We want to ensure that a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds are represented and that journalism is accessible as a profession to everyone.”

Picture: BJTC

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