Masterclass day: a new innovation for the John Schofield Trust

Mentees hear from 5News Health Editor, Catherine Jones and her producer Rachel Lucas. Photo: Atif Rashid

Our masterclasses have long been a valued feature of our mentoring scheme for young journalists in the early years of their career. This year we tried something new, with our first full day of masterclass sessions held at BBC Broadcasting House in central London.

Bringing together a variety of experts in their field to inform and advise 50 young journalists, including JST mentees past and present, the sessions ranged from practical to inspirational. There was also time for some all-important networking too. 

Interview skills with trustees Louise Hastings and Kate Riley.

“If you were a salad, which salad would you be?”

The day opened with a catch-up session on how to prepare for job interviews, with tips from JST trustees Kate Riley and Louise Hastings on handling tricky questions, one of the more memorable being: “If you were a salad, what salad would you be?” With a full room and many participants keen to interact and share their own experiences, it was evident how welcome this discussion was for the audience.

5News Health Editor, Catherine Jones and producer Rachel Lucas.

Developing original stories

Making your ideas into television isn’t always easy, and 5News Health Editor Catherine Jones and her former producer Rachel Lucas, now a Specialist Producer at Sky News, were next to take to the stage, giving a masterclass in how they had done just that with a series of high-profile investigations. Mentees said they found the insight into the steps that were required, especially when Freedom of Information requests were involved, particularly interesting. 

How do companies respond to being investigated?

JST trustee Matt Peacock, a former journalist with decades of corporate experience, was on hand to give an original and engaging take on how best to avoid legal hazards in the way you approach companies big and small for a response to an investigation. “He made a subject that could have been dry enormously entertaining” said one of our attendees.

Money, money, money

It’s not just young journalists who feel daunted when first faced with the need to fill in a tax form or deal with the HMRC. Specialist media accountant Paul Simnock was on hand to advise and reassure freelancers in our audience about how to budget for tax bills and what to look for in a modern accountant. One of our former mentees noted “it’s rare to get advice like that without having to pay a lot for it.”

Left to right: Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford, trustee Nick Pollard and John Ryley, Head of Sky News.

Stellar ending

Our day ended with our keynote speakers, foreign correspondent Alex Crawford and Head of Sky News John Ryley in conversation with their former colleague and JST trustee Nick Pollard. Ranging over how they got into journalism and some of the ethical issues we face in dealing with difficult stories, their candid responses impressed their audience, who found the session a fascinating and inspiring end to a wonderfully successful day.

More masterclass days are planned for the future… watch this space!