Taster day for sixth formers aims to diversify journalism

Katie Stewart with two sixth form students working together at the taster day

Staff and students at the University of Sheffield have hosted an exciting Journalism Taster Day to give an insight into university life to local sixth formers from social groups that are underrepresented in higher education.

Seven young people visited the Department of Journalism Studies in January for a full day of workshops, which ranged from interviewing and blogging to presenting and scripting a TV news bulletin. They worked with lecturers and current students as well as other sixth formers from across the city. The afternoon culminated in a mini news bulletin presented by the visitors.

The department's taster day stems from a partnership between Brightside and the John Schofield Trust, which offers opportunities to students from deprived backgrounds with an interest in journalism.

Across the country around 30 students are taking part, receiving e-mentoring from high-profile journalists. Those involved in South Yorkshire come from All Saints School, King Edward VII sixth form and Barnsley College.

Good future

Third-year journalism undergraduate Adriana Abidin helped the mentees to perform pieces to camera. She said: "I found the students to be very engaging and passionate about journalism.

"I think they will have a good future in journalism should they continue to be as passionate as they are now. The taster day is a great exposure to future journalists to experience doing journalism at the number 1 department in the UK."

This scheme is proving a great success for all involved. We are very keen to support the work being done to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into journalism. Our industry is underrepresented in these areas and we must do what we can to try and change this.

Katie Stewart
Department of Journalism Studies

University Teacher in Journalism Studies Matt Robson gave the students an opportunity to record and edit voiceovers using industry-standard equipment. He was impressed by their approach.

"I really enjoyed meeting all of the students on the John Schofield Trust taster day," said Matt. "They were so enthusiastic and got involved in every aspect of preparing the TV news bulletin. It's a pleasure to pass on my knowledge and experience to these young people who are delighted to learn more. I'm sure I've met some journalists of the future."

Journalism Studies BA course leader Katie Stewart co-ordinated the Taster Day. She said: "The John Schofield Trust mentees were a delight to work with. This scheme is proving a great success for all involved. We are very keen to support the work being done by the trust and Brightside to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into journalism.

"Our industry is underrepresented in these areas and we must do what we can to try and change this."

A sixth form student handles a TV camera while a group works in the background Two students on a TV monitor presenting from the newsroom

Ambitions

Brightside is the UK’s biggest online mentoring organisation and supports 10,000 young people every year from disadvantaged backgrounds, connecting them with mentors from a wide range of industries and universities which they might otherwise never encounter.

The John Schofield Trust addresses social mobility within the UK’s newsrooms, identifying and nurturing journalistic talent at a younger age. The trust's partnership with Brightside aims to develop the skills and ambitions of potential future journalists, and provide practical advice and emotional support to help them fulfil their potential.