What made you want to lead the John Schofield Trust?
A mixture of personal and professional reasons. I admired the work of the Trust and felt I had something to offer. I never expected to get a job in the media. I was the first person in my family to go to university and no-one in my family had ever worked as a journalist. Mentors encouraged me to apply to the BBC and I have had an incredibly fulfilling career there.
What and where you working before?
I’ve run a series of high profile partnerships and projects for the BBC. I was editor of the BBC’s Generations projects which recruited diverse cohorts of young people from across the UK to help the BBC cover general elections and referendums. It was great preparation for working with the Trust.
What are your priorities for the Trust going forward?
I want to raise the profile of the Trust, to add our distinctive voice to the debate about diversity in the media, to grow our world class mentoring programme and to forge new relationships with institutions and individuals who share our values.
Mentoring is the bedrock of what the Trust does. What makes a good mentor?
I’ve seen from both sides how rewarding and valuable it can be to be mentored, and to be a mentor. When you are starting out in a competitive media environment you have lots of questions, but are afraid to seem naïve. You can have conversations with your mentor that you can’t have with your line manager. Great mentoring relationships are like all great relationships – they are based on trust, honesty and a desire to learn. It’s no exaggeration to say that mentoring can transforms people’s aspirations and turbo-charge their careers.
What do you think about diversity in newsrooms?
I think too many people think of diversity in terms of recruitment: for me it’s about creating institutions which are fit for the future. Newsrooms, like every part of the media, need to be diverse in order to be accurate, effective, robust and resilient. I agree with Dorothy Byrne, the former head of news and current affairs at Channel 4: ‘If your newsroom is not diverse, you will get the news wrong’.
What’s the worst piece of advice you were given…
That job’s not for you, don’t bother applying.
Do the thing that frightens you.
Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who has inspired you most in your career?
I was incredibly lucky as a young man to be spotted by the journalist and politician Margo MacDonald who encouraged me to apply for a summer job at Radio Forth in Edinburgh, which helped me get into the BBC. I also admire Allan Little, the finest writer for TV news.