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Industry chiefs to launch ‘ambitious’ bid to attract more working class journalists

Joanne Butcher newIndustry chiefs are set to unveil a new project to attract talent from disadvantaged communities amid concerns about a lack of working class journalists in the regional press.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has announced it will be launching “an ambitious outreach scheme” in a bid to address the issue, along with what it called the “woeful” under-representation of people of colour in senior newsroom roles.

The announcement comes after research consultant Mark Spilsbury warned earlier this year in his annual report for the NCTJ into diversity in the industry that newsroom bosses need to address issues around the social class backgrounds of their workforces as a “priority”.

Helen Dalby, Reach plc’s audience and content director for the North-East of England and Yorkshire, has subsequently urged regional publishers to target schools in order to recruit more working class journalists.

The new scheme was heralded by NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher in the organisation’s annual report, published yesterday.

However few details of how the scheme will work in practice have so far been given and HTFP has approached the NCTJ for further information.

Joanne, pictured, wrote: “We know from our research how difficult it is for those from poorer backgrounds to get into journalism.

“While ethnic and gender diversity is gradually improving (although more needs to be done), the number of journalists from wealthier backgrounds is increasing.

“The lack of working class representation at all levels of journalism and the woeful record of promoting people of colour into senior roles is shameful.

“So looking ahead, we are planning to bring as many groups as we can together to take more action to make journalism reflect today’s diverse society.

“Expect to see an ambitious outreach scheme that casts the net wider to seek out new journalism talent from disadvantaged communities across all nations of the UK.

“Addressing the issue of social mobility and helping to break down the barriers was a pledge we made at the end of our anniversary year.”

In the report, NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher also took a swipe at Twitter’s new chief executive Elon Musk over his desire for the social media website to “become by far the most accurate source of information about the world”.

Kim wrote: “The richest man in the world should take care, for he is pitting himself against the might of the NCTJ, whose sole purpose is the promotion of the highest standards in journalism.

“Our enthusiastic team works with teachers, journalists and employers who believe in those standards. We work with trainees who are keen to achieve them. Together, we help equip reporters with the skills they need to work in print, broadcast and – of course – online.

“We have been at it for more than 70 years and remember when journalists with NCTJ qualifications took the Daily Telegraph online 28 years ago. So we’re not ready to cede moral high ground to newcomers like Mr Musk.”