Image: John Schofield Trust
Four City alumni have been selected to take part in a prestigious journalism mentorship programme this year that pairs early career journalists with some of the leading reporters in British broadcasting.
The mentoring scheme was set up by the John Schofield Trust in 2012 and has gone on to help 275 young journalists.
The Trust was founded 25 years ago by Susie Schofield after her husband, John Schofield, was killed in 1995 while reporting on the conflict in Croatia. It aims to support early career journalists and increase diversity in the newsroom. The year-long mentoring programme gives early career journalists a unique opportunity to develop their professional skills, and access to those higher up in the broadcasting industry.
The City alumni chosen are former MA Broadcast students Shayma Bakht, Hannah Gray, and Laura Hendry, and former MA International Journalism student Gianluca Avagnina. They went through the selection scheme last autumn, competing against 120 applicants. The four graduates are part of a cohort of 49 young journalists.
Mr Avagnina was recently offered a role with ITV News, following encouragement from his mentor, the London Bureau Chief for Vice, Sean Stephens. Mr Avagnina said: “I truly believe it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my mentor […] Sean’s advice and guidance has been crucial in my pursuit for new challenges at a critical point in my career in journalism.”
While the Trust has traditionally not collected data on which universities the mentees went to, Mrs Schofield said she knows that a number of City alumni have been helped by the programme and some have since returned as mentors.
Nicola Keaney, a former MA Television Journalism student and mentee, returned to be a mentor this year. She said: “The skills I obtained from City plus the confidence that the John Schofield Trust gave me are very big parts of why I am where I am.” Ms Keaney works at Twitter, and has been featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30. She added: “I’m a big believer in women supporting women and so it made sense for me to apply to be a mentor and guide young female journalists who are starting out in their career.”
Reflecting on almost a decade’s worth of the scheme, Mrs Schofield said that one of the proudest moments was former mentee, and City graduate, Anya Popp, winning the Royal Television Society’s Young Talent of the Year award in 2019. The award was also set up by Mrs Schofield in John’s memory.
Mrs Schofield said: “That was a real completion of the virtuous circle.” Miss Popp obtained a bursary to study for the MA Broadcast Journalism course and had no contacts in the media when starting out.
Mrs Schofield added: “We selected her, we mentored her, and she went on to win the Young Talent of the Year award. It was a validation that we are on the right track and we are helping the right people.”
Applications for the 2022 scheme will open this autumn. Please visit https://johnschofieldtrust.org.uk/ to find out more.