LONDON360 NEWS REPORTERS SINCE 2011. OVER 80% ARE NOW WORKING IN MEDIA.
PIC COURTESY - MEDIA TRUST.
I am Executive Producer and Project Manager for London360 - a magazine TV show that airs on Community Channel, London Live and acts as a youth news hub for all UK broadcasters. Each feature is also turned into radio content as well as print press articles for local, national and international press. The best part? All this content is made by young Londoners' with no previus experience in broadcast media.
It would be easy to think the diversity debate about diversity in the media industry is a new thing but it's not. Seventeen years ago I sat on the first diversity committee of a mainstream broadcaster and the question was the same then as it is now: how do we diversify our sector?
The real difference is that over the past few years there seems to be a genuine interest and commitment by broadcasters to ensure our sector is more diverse both behind and in front of the camera.
After three years as Executive Producer and Project Manager for London360, the country's first youth-led news team,made under the Media Trust umbrella, it strikes me that the answer is quite simple: broadcasters need to reassess their training programmes to make sure they provide genuine career opportunities.
I see a sector full of schemes that offer three, six and even 12 weeks of training but I question, and I am sure others do, how much can a young person new to the industry learn in 12 weeks?
Don't get me wrong, they will of course pick up something but how skilled and employable will they be afterwards?
We describe London360 as an intensive six-month training course and it is. Our young reporters, aged 18 to 25 from a range of backgrounds (not exclusively BAME), go from zero to 60. They come in with minimum - if any - industry experience, start with an induction of master classes run by industry professionals and within 6 weeks they are given the responsibility of producing a 30-minute television programme every fortnight which airs nationally on the Media Trust's Community Channel (a Sky and Freeview channel watched by more than two million viewers a month).
Unlike some traditional training schemes, our young reporters are not just trained in one form of journalism - print, radio, online - they are trained to master all forms of journalism. They learn about everything they need to know to become multi-skilled journalists able to create content on multiple platforms. Our London360 reporters' blogs, vlogs, TV and radio items have appeared on BBC Radio London, Sky, MTV, Evening Standard, The Voice, Huffington Post and many more.
Like graduates on a training scheme our London360 reporters get to know every aspect of the business and the skills they need to cut it. From presenting to editing, from compliance to research, they learn how to direct, to produce, to hold a camera, to interview and more. This is a course where the trainees do not play at making a TV programme, they do make a TV programme.
And the result? 80% of London360 graduates go on to secure a job in the sector once their six-month stint is complete. The calibre of media outlets that have employed them - including the BBC, Sky, ITV, London Live, MTV, Jewish Chronicle and MOBO - speaks volumes of the skills they gain. Not bad for a scheme in its fourth year and seventh series.
Aside from the intensity of the training, London360, supported by City Bridge Trust amongst others, gives its young reporters an invaluable opportunity to work alongside a diverse range of high profile supporters that serve as mentors rather than stardust.
The ambassadors - including Noel Clarke, Alesha Dixon, Eddie Nestor and Jon Snow -give their time to deliver master classes, take part in Q & A sessions, offer advice and have acted as spokespeople on numerous London360 interviews. Our reporters, for example, have discussed domestic violence with Jamelia, dyslexia with Marco Pierre White and Tottenham's regeneration with David Lammy.
Our supporters, crucially, are living proof that professionals from all backgrounds can and do make it in our industry and often prove inspirational to young reporters.
I would urge broadcasters that want to tackle the lack of diversity in our the industry to review their training programmes, to consider the skills learnt and the opportunities given and to consider recruiting talent that serve as an early lesson that people of all backgrounds can be successful in this business.
This is a longer version of a feature I originally wrote for Broadcast Magazine this week.
For more information about london360 or to watch the shows see http://www.communitychannel.org/london360