In the spring of 2018 we invited our pioneer mentees and mentors (those who were on the first two mentoring schemes back in 2012 and 2013) and past winners of the John Schofield Trust/RTS Journalist of the Year award to complete a survey asking them about their careers, the John Schofield Trust and what they see as the key challenges the UK news industry faces today. What they told us will help us in developing the schemes we run and in assembling compelling evidence to prove our plans to unlock social mobility are on the right track.
‘The recognition afforded to me by the RTS award win was invaluable; it made me stand out in an industry that is a notoriously tough place to make your mark as a young and enthusiastic journalist. I was introduced to editors and top-level correspondents, while my name and work was suddenly on the radar of key people in network newsrooms.
Through the award, I was also introduced to the John Schofield Trust and was mentored by C4 News chief correspondent Alex Thomson for a year. This took my journalism, script writing, and packaging to another level. His advice still rings in my ears on every story. This, along with support from others I’d got to know through the RTS, turned out to be tremendously beneficial when I was interviewing to join ITV News.
…I am now the ITV News Scotland correspondent. Having grown up watching ITV News, the thrill of now reporting for them as a bureau correspondent now is a true privilege which I hope I never lose sight of. I owe much of my progress in the last four years to the RTS and John Schofield Trust, and I always try to repay it by passing on the lessons I’ve learned to the next generation of journalists. I also encourage every ambitious journalist to join the John Schofield Trust and absolutely endorse the mentoring programme as a means to helping others reach their full potential by learning from the best of their peers.’ Peter Smith, ITV News, Award-winner, 2014
• All our mentee respondents have recommended the John Schofield Trust mentoring scheme to colleagues
• All our mentor respondents recommend being a JST mentor
• All our JST/RTS award-winners say winning the award has helped their careers
• 78% of our respondents identify budgetary cutbacks as the main challenge to news organisations today
• 60% of our mentee respondents identified ‘a lack of career path’ as their greatest challenge to their career as a journalist
What do you see as the main threat/s to news organisations today?
➢ Engaging young audiences that are not used to getting their news from traditional sources. (Award- winner)
➢ Making news attractive to younger audiences (Mentee)
➢ Competing with newer online news sources (Mentee)
What else can we do to improve the mentoring scheme?
➢ Offer it to more people. (Mentee)
➢ Training lectures like the one with Tom Bradby are inspirational & extremely helpful to young journalists. (Mentee)
➢ Help people out of London get a taste of the capital and its media scene. (Mentee)
➢ By looking to focus more on social class diversity can only be a good thing for the scheme and for the mentees and mentors, it’s hugely important. (Mentor)
What do you see as the main challenge/s to your career as a journalist?
➢ The changing viewing habits of the audience. (Mentee)
➢ Relentless under-resourcing (pressure to do more with less) (Mentee)
➢ …for younger people the poor pay, lack of job security, ferocious competition and stranglehold of white Oxbridge graduates are all big issues. (Mentor)
What was the best lesson you learnt on the John Schofield Trust mentoring scheme and what was the impact on your work?
➢ To network all the time, you never know when those connections will come in handy.
➢ The ability to succeed and reach go far in this job is very achievable. That lesson gave me confidence in my role, and my ambition.
➢ The most important factor was the confidence of senior people in our business giving me the time and taking my work seriously. There was lots of useful advice along the way but having their ear gave a vital boost to my own belief in my ability and helped me achieve my goals.
➢ Seeing other newsrooms and getting a feel of the options out there for me.
What did you value most about mentoring on the John Schofield Trust mentoring scheme?
➢ Getting the chance to encourage the next generation who will take our business in new and fascinating directions.
➢ I felt my mentee progressed and learnt from me - while I also learnt from him - since he was younger his understanding of the new world of media was greater than mine - he really showed me some new methods and interests. It was a two-way street.
➢ It’s an incredibly rewarding experience. You give something back and you watch the mentee grow with your guidance.
How did winning the award help your career?
➢ Winning an RTS is a badge of honour. It opens doors, assures people of ability and quality, and can never be taken away from you. I don't think it is an exaggeration to describe it as a game-changer.
➢ Winning the award provided me a platform to the broader industry. It generated new relationships and new connections which have helped me at various stages through my career. It also gave me a sense of self-belief that I'd never had before. It gave me insight into what was possible.
➢ I still quote winning the award in career chats – it has definitely helped me further my career. And the Trust in general has helped me stay in touch with young journalists, passing on my experience to new emerging talent.
➢ [Journalism] can be an engaging, challenging, fascinating and even inspiring profession. Faced with the challenges of ‘fake news’ and social media, the important role of impartial broadcast journalists will only increase. It’s up to new entrants to help chart our collective route towards the future