By Hamish Mackay
Three aspiring Scottish journalists are getting a significant helping hand in their bid to access a full-time career in the media, thanks to a fellowship award scheme run by the industry access organisation, Journo Resources. Just 12 youngsters were chosen from close on 400 applicants and the successful Scottish trio are Heather Graham, pictured left, from Dumbarton, who is additionally being sponsored by the Society of Editors; Marco Marcelline from Glasgow, who is being supported by The Printing Charity; and Grant Allan Nicol from Edinburgh, who has sponsorship from the Journalists’ Charity.
This is Journo Resources’ first fellowship award scheme in which it is supported by its partners – the Society of Editors, the Journalists’ Charity, the Printing Charity and the Solutions Journalism Network – and it is specifically geared towards helping those youngsters taking their first tentative steps towards a media career in the midst of all the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus crisis. The two-month scheme offers one-to-one mentoring, workshops, CV reviews, and paid writing opportunities. The fellows also receive in-depth training on pitching, solutions journalism, social media, and job hunting skills – as well as the chance to produce at least one paid piece for the soon-to-be relaunched Journo Resources’ advice section.
Jem Collins, the founding director and editor-in-chief of Journo Resources, explained to me: ‘Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard from hundreds of young people, career changers, and freelance journalists – all of them worried about the impact the crisis will have on their future careers. During the past six months our team has tried our best to help as many people as we can – providing one-to-one advice, events and online resources. However, we wanted to do something more to help those who were taking their first steps into the journalism industry – hence the fellowship awards’.
Heather Graham, 21, who graduated with a first-class honours degree in journalism studies from Stirling University in June, says: ‘I was so excited to join the fellowship award scheme. Breaking into this industry is hard enough – let alone in a pandemic. You know you’re a graduate when you get more rejection emails than student discount emails. I have been reading the Journo Resources website for a few years now, so writing for them is the ideal starting point for my career. For my one paid piece as part of the fellowship scheme, I plan to write a feature on established journalists and how they got their first big break in the business. If this is you, please get in touch!
‘I am additionally being sponsored by the Society of Editors and I have already found the society to be a great help in promoting myself and helping me network with journalists I wouldn’t have met otherwise. At the moment, I have a few part-time jobs outwith journalism to keep the finances in check, as well as the odd freelance article now and again. I also launched my own website in June – www.notwhatyouthought.com – where I interview people about their out-of-the-ordinary relationships. The aim is to challenge perspectives by showcasing different relationships. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I will get a solid job in a newsroom but right now I am concentrating on the fellowship award scheme and developing my freelancing skills’.
Problems posed by the coronavirus crisis have also been highlighted by Sky News anchorman, Mark Austin, who told the Daily Mail about the difficulties being encountered by his daughter, Beatrice, who is 21. Explained Mark: ‘Beatrice has done a masters in TV journalism at City University, London, and is looking at a jobs landscape that is unremittingly bleak. She is really struggling to get a job in journalism. This pandemic has made things really difficult for young people and my heart goes out them’.