Credit: Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

The NCTJ has hit its £500k target which will allow it to continue supporting aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds through its flagship Journalism Diversity Scheme (JDF).

As such, 53 bursaries were awarded this year which help to cover the costs of NCTJ course fees and living expenses. The JDF was set up in 2005 and has supported more than 400 recipients so far.

Its mission is to pave the way for ethnically and socially diverse people to enter an industry which is 92 per cent white, according to the latest NCTJ diversity statistics.

The funding for the scheme comes from 23 industry bodies and news organisations, like BBC, Bloomberg, News UK, Twitter and the Google News Initiative. The NCTJ stepped up fundraising efforts in 2021, bringing 11 new supporters on board including CNN, ITV and Yahoo News.

Bursaries are awarded to recipients four times a year, but to apply for the JDF, you need to be offered or enrolled on an NCTJ course and keep an eye on the application window to open.

"We knew there was a determination within the sector to make the news media more diverse and more inclusive and we are thrilled that so many have stepped up to offer their financial support," says Nikki Akinola, NCTJ's diversity and inclusion co-ordinator.

"We hope many more will follow their example and help us drive up the number of applications for funding."

The NCTJ has been tracking job destinations of JDF recipients over the past ten years, and the data shows that 70 per cent of recipients make it into the industry. Those success stories now work for the likes of BBC News, PA Media, News UK, Reach plc, Sky News and Sky Sports News, Bloomberg, the Daily Mail and ITV.

One recent recipient is Sanny Rudravajhala, a 36-year-old husband and father, who spent nine years as a science teacher, after getting a degree in psychology and a Master’s in sport and performance psychology. Last year, he set out on a career change into journalism and applied successfully for support from the JDF.

He has just graduated with a Master's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Salford. Now, he is making his name as a freelance journalist for BBC Radio Manchester, presenting the BBC Squad Goals show, and reporting for the BBC World Service's Sport Today.

“It would have been impossible for me to study without the JDF. The JDF helped me to be able to bring my different outlook and experiences to the newsroom," he says.

The NCTJ is aiming to place more emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion in the future. It has just expanded the Community News Project, a partnership between the NCTJ, Meta (formerly Facebook) and regional news publishers which aims to support quality local journalism and improve the diversity of newsrooms.

The $8 million charitable donation (around £5.9 million) from Meta will create 100 community reporter roles to report on underserved communities across England, Scotland and Wales over the next two years.

Its Journalism Skills Academy, supported by the Google News Initiative, is another effort to support the news industry through providing learning resources for journalists to study towards formal qualifications.

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