A bid to attract more people into journalism from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds has been launched with the creation of a new charitable fund.
Wannabe reporters who might otherwise be put off from joining the industry because they cannot afford to train, will be able to apply for financial help from the Journalism Diversity Fund.
Managed and administered by the National Council for the Training of Journalists, it has been set up with the help of the Newspaper Licensing Agency, which has donated £100,000.
Details of the fund were revealed during the Society of Editors’ conference in Windermere by NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher.
He said that the best way to increase diversity in the newsroom was to take action at grassroots level.
He said: “We shall be offering bursaries to encourage the education and training of young people from socially and ethnically diverse communities.
“And we shall be working hard to encourage people to come into journalism from those diverse communities.
“We want bright boys and girls – black or white – from tough estates who are put off because they don’t think they can afford to go to college.
“We want Asian boys and girls whose families think journalism isn’t a proper job to think again.
“In short we want British journalists to come from every area of the Britain they report.”
The launch follows after a survey by the SoE that found that newspapers in areas of high minority ethnic population in general had no better records in recruiting minority ethnic editorial staff than any others.
It was not unusual to find just one non-white reporter among news staff in an area where the population at large might be 20 per cent non-white.
In the study, editors complained that they did not receive applications from the minority ethnic communities and that journalism courses at colleges and universities also failed to recruit significantly from the minority ethnic communities.
Speaking at the fund’s launch, Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, said: “The British press – both regional and national, plays a massive part in how we all relate to one another.
“The Journalism Diversity Fund is a much needed boost to the media industry where people from ethnic minority backgrounds remain almost invisible at all levels.
“Until this changes, vast chunks of the media remain unable to tell the whole of our national story.”
The fund is aimed at people without the financial means to attend NCTJ accredited vocational courses.
Applicants will need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to journalism and the potential to be successful.