Getting funding to train as a journalist

journalismFacebook memories tells me that’s it exactly a year ago today since I found out I had been awarded a Scott Trust bursary by Guardian Media Group. This bursary paid for my MA fees at the University of Sheffield and provided £6000 for living costs. I also availed of work experience in the Manchester and London newsrooms.

I have been incredibly fortunate to receive this funding and want to raise awareness of funding opportunities. Journalism is an extremely middle class and white industry. For me, coming from a working class family it was  daunting-how will I break in? My parents left school at 15, I got the full EMA at school and the full living grant at university. I was the first in the Noble family line to stay in school to 18 and the first to go to university. Research by the Sutton Trust in 2006 shows how minority working class representation is in the British media:

  • More than half (54%) of the country’s leading news journalists were educated in private schools, which account for 7% of the school population as a whole.
  • Overall, 45% of the leading journalists in 2006 – or 56% of those who went to university – attended Oxbridge. This is slightly lower than in 1986, when the equivalent figures were 52% of the total, and 67% of university graduates

Additionally the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) found  that:

“65% of those who manage to break into the industry have a parent who is a professional, a manager or a director. (That’s nearly two thirds.) Just 3 percent of new journalists come from a family of ‘unskilled’ workers.”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. It is competitive to get journalism funding but there are more bursaries than you perhaps may think. Let me know if you know of anything I’ve left out!

The Scott Trust bursary scheme

6/5 bursaries (the site says 5 but there were 6 awarded my year so…) are awarded yearly to graduates or soon-to-be graduates who can prove a commitment to journalism and who face financial difficulties in attaining the qualifications needed to enter the media. Courses currently selected by the scheme are masters at City University London, Goldsmiths and The University of Sheffield. Fees are paid, a living bursary and expenses when you are on work experience with the Guardian-travel, lunch and accommodation in a hotel.

The Journalism Diversity Fund

The Journalism Diversity Fund was set up in 2005 to increase diversity in the media. It is administrated by the NCTJ so you must have applied to/have an offer of study for a NCTJ accredited course- a MA or short course such as the Press Association’s or News Associate’s. Applications are accepted throughout the year, with several rounds of funding.

Press Association’s  bursary scheme

Press Association is the leading news agency in Britain and Ireland, supplying content to all national news outlets and most regionals. Two people will be selected each year from socially and/or ethically diverse backgrounds who can prove financial disadvantage . PA pay for a place on their NCTJ diploma course in London, a living grant and provide for a two year contract at PA with the chance of securing long term employment with them after.

The George Viner memorial fund 

This fund was launched by the National Union of Journalists in 1986 with the aim of increasing the representation of Black and ethnic minority journalists in the British and Irish media. Course fees are covered.

The Thomas Read bursary

This bursary was set up in memory of Thomas Read, a sports journalist with cerebral  palsy who sadly died from complications due to surgery in 2015. The bursary is awarded to aspiring journalists with disabilities.

Veronica Guerin memorial scholarship 

One aspiring investigative journalist wishing to study for a MA in journalism at Dublin City University is awarded  a scholarship to cover course fees and some living costs. The bursary is awarded in memory of investigative journalist Veronica Guerin, who was murdered on 26 June 1996, and who served as a member of the governing body of NIHE/DCU from 1982 to 1992.

Many universities in England have their own funding for students from low incomes  who have achieved strong academic grades in their undergraduate degree and who are wishing to study a masters.