John Schofield Trust statement on Ofcom’s annual study of diversity in TV and radio industry

Image from front cover of Ofcom report into diversity, 2020

Ofcom’s latest report on diversity – or the lack of it – shows that our mission remains vital: we want UK newsrooms as diverse as the audiences they serve, and that’s why we support young journalists from all backgrounds.

At the Trust, we run mentoring schemes for apprentice, early career and aspiring journalists, prioritising those who come from sections of society which are under-represented in the news industry.

Our mentoring schemes are a practical solution to the challenges facing the TV and radio industry in addressing inclusivity. We identify and nurture a pipeline of diverse talent for future newsrooms throughout the UK.

We have just shortlisted candidates for our 2021 early career mentoring scheme and an analysis of where they are from demonstrates how effective we are at supporting early career journalists from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Ofcom study, Diversity and equal opportunities in television and radio 2019-20, found that 58% of employees in the television industry, and 61% in radio, grew up in a professional home. Of our 2021 mentee cohort, 13% were eligible for free school meals and 45% were the first generation in their family to go into higher education.

The Ofcom report finds that most broadcasters’ workforces are still primarily based in London, even though four-fifths of the population live elsewhere. We are proactive in supporting mentees from outside of London. For our 2021 cohort of mentees, 48% are based outside of London.

Ofcom laments the lack of progress in recruiting employees from minority ethnic backgrounds, and those who are LGBTQ+ and disabled. Again, the John Schofield Trust addresses this and, for 2021:

  • 35% of our mentees are from minority ethnic backgrounds (Ofcom cites 15% for TV, 9% for radio industry)
  • 17% are disabled (7% of TV and 6% of radio employees), and
  • 13% identify as LGBTQ+ (5% in tv industry, 6% in radio)

Our long-term aim is to strengthen independent journalism’s essential role in an open and effective democracy by opening up access for disadvantaged and diverse young people into the journalism industry.  As Ofcom notes, ‘audiences consistently say they expect to see programmes that authentically portray modern life across the UK. To achieve that, broadcasters need to reflect the whole society they serve.’

We’re have been running our early career mentoring scheme since 2012 and are already seeing results with mentees progressing through the ranks of news management. For example, Lewis Goodall, Ashley John-Baptiste and Anja Popp, were all supported by John Schofield Trust mentors and are now rising to ever higher prominence in the news industry. To see how others are progressing, please see our news hub on our website.