DMU Journalism students to be mentored by media professionals and help create a more diverse industry

Six journalism students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are to be paired up with mentors from the media as part of a scheme to make sure people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds are better represented in the industry.

The students have all been accepted on to the John Schofield Trust scheme which will pair them with an experienced journalist from the area they would like to specialise in, for example news anchoring or sports writing.

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The programme lasts for 12 months and is conducted through a series of in-person and virtual meetings.

The scheme is supported by media companies including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky and journalists involved in mentoring have included Jon Snow, Kay Burley, Ronke Phillips, Victoria Derbyshire, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Laura Kuennsberg and Emily Maitlis.

DMU Journalism senior lecturer Jeremy Clay said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the John Schofield Trust, and share its ambition to change the face of British newsrooms.

“Journalism, particularly at a national level, can seem like a closed shop for the privileged, which is why the mentoring the Trust offers is so important.

“We’re convinced our students on the scheme will benefit hugely from the guidance and encouragement of the professional journalists they’ll be paired with – and we can’t wait to see what they’ll go on to achieve.”

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Aliyah Sheth, a final year DMU Journalism student from Leicester, has ambitions to be a TV news anchor.

Aliyah said: “I have heard that being someone of colour and a female means my chances of success are not as great as it is for others.

“This is an opportunity for me to get some contacts within the industry and break down some barriers.

“When I was growing up I could not believe presenting the news was a job and thought it would be such a cool thing to do. You get to talk to people and let the audience know what is really happening in the world. People deserve to know.

“There has been a huge improvement in representation in the media industry over the last 10 years but I think we have a bit of a way to go. There are more black presenters now but, as an Asian, there is not somebody prominent who represents me.

“My dream job is to be a news anchor on the 10 o’clock news and that, as soon as people see me or hear my voice, they know who I am, that I am trustworthy, I am reliable and I can do the job properly.

“I feel some news presenters are abusing their power so being trusted completely by the audience is the dream really.”

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Zarina Ahmed, a final year DMU journalism student from Derby, said: “I really want to be a feature writer. I have heard stories from the industry about there being a lack of equality and examples of people like me only being there to write stories if it involves minority groups.

“There aren’t really any working class or South Asian or Muslim reporters to look up to. They are all the same archetype.

“I think news writing is a bit restrictive whereas feature writing better reflects people’s feelings and experiences. I think a good feature connects better with the subject and readers learn more about them. I would love to be an established writer for a newspaper like The Times or The Guardian.

“I enjoy the course. When I was looking to apply I was a massive introvert, very shy and perhaps not as charismatic but I have got so much better at talking to people and understanding their story.”


Courtney Stevens, another final year student, who is from Telford in Shropshire, said: “I am really looking forward to having a mentor and seeing how they can help me and guide me. I want to go into magazine journalism and write about fashion and travel.

“I applied because I live far away from the big media bases like London and Manchester and I really don’t know anyone who works in the industry. I’m hoping to get some good advice that helps me to get my foot in the door.

“I know some people who had mentors last year and they found it to be so helpful. They managed to get internships and freelance work as a result. It will be good to have that insider knowledge.”

John Schofield was a BBC reporter who was killed in Croatia when he was just 29. The trust was set up by his family to help other young journalists. Find out more here

You can find out more about the DMU Journalism course and how to apply here


Posted on Wednesday 31 January 2024

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