It was great to see so many of our current and past mentors and mentees at our annual gathering to celebrate the work of the John Schofield Trust.
The Trust is lucky to have mentees and mentors from a wide selection of broadcasters all present on the night, including the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, ITV News, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg and 5 News, along with companies such as Globelynx, Reuters and AP. In the words of our host, Sky News presenter, Andrew Wilson, “…such a gathering of senior experienced individuals from all our major broadcasting organisations, under one roof, with a common purpose – which is quite simply to lend a hand to those just starting out in what can be a very rewarding, but quite daunting, career.”
This is the fourth year of our mentoring scheme to support young journalists now reaching all regions of the UK and abroad. A good example of this has been the pairing between BBC Diplomatic Correspondent, Bridget Kendall, and Emma Burrows, now Moscow correspondent with Deutsche Welle’s new 24-hours English language channel. They were on the scheme in 2014 and continue to exchange emails, calls and ideas.
Andrew gave a big hello to all current, past and future mentees. “It’s all about you, about what you want, what you need, and what part the Trust can do in enhancing your participation in the world of broadcast journalism.”
And he also called upon the more experienced journalists present to sign up to support a mentee in the future, whether you are a correspondent, senior producer, editor or manager, both TV and radio. As Andrew described, “Oh how we forget… standing there, hands on hips, sounding forth on a world shattering event with prime time billing, or printing off yet another ground breaking running order – telling ourselves that this was all down to our own absolute and unique brilliance. We forget that little prod all those years ago from Martin Bell, or Keith Graves, listening to another live by John Cole. We forget the cameraman who raised his head (and eyebrow) and said “are you sure you want to say that?” How for most of us – someone along the way gave us a good steer.”
Andrew’s experience of mentoring has been about listening, and “shifting the focus away from yourself to someone else… as a mentor, when you encourage someone to speak – about themselves, it can become clearer where a little nudging might go a long way.”
Looking ahead to 2016
The Trust needs new and former mentors to sign up for the fifth year of our mentoring scheme. And we are always on the look out for other offers of support, be it a venue to hold a masterclass, ways to reach out to the regions or funding and sponsorship.
Current mentor, Hamish MacDonald, held an excellent session recently on voice skills. Mentees were totally engaged, embracing the exercises enthusiastically including delivering their cues whilst standing on chairs or presenting in a Blue Peter style. It was a lesson in pace, pause and meaning. The Trust wants to roll out more sessions. If you are interested in running a session yourself, please get in touch and we will make the arrangements.
The Trust will continue to sponsor a bursary for the Royal Television Society’s Young Talent of the Year. Hamish was a previous winner, along with many others including Matthew Price, Donal MacIntyre and 2014 mentee, Peter Smith.
Our focus for mentoring is to listen to what the mentees need and match an appropriate mentor to help them. Applications for mentees open in January 2016 and we are on the look out to find mentors to add to our pool.
Finally, Andrew gave his own anecdote of how far he had come…
“I do still remember my first live report, September 1990, outside the house of Sir Peter Terry, former Governor of Gibraltar, after the IRA had attacked it, leaving both Sir Peter and his wife with serious gunshot wounds.
I’d been there all morning so at first thought I had it in the bag. But when I heard the presenter mention my name my mind went crystal white blank and I launched into a garbled, staccato and utterly confused version of events – in which I called him Terry Peter, and then Peter Terry, and then Terry Peter again. I was asked about his wife – and I replied “…Oh, she’s fine, well she’s been shot of course, but I think she’s fine”. Management conclusion included the words ‘rabbit’ and ‘headlights’.
But the bit I really remember is that just before the live as the other reporters filed past, giving me the usual mixed looks, a handsome young chap from Channel 4 Daily stepped up and flashed me a genuine smile and a thumbs up. Nice guy, I remember thinking – and that was John Schofield – a genuinely nice guy.”