Sometimes the conversation around diversity can sound trite. The response is usually how can we be heading into the new decade and still be having the same discussions around how to make mainstream media more representative? It is a topic that has become battered through countless panels, books and discussions (where speakers arguably haven’t been that much more diverse for a large portion of the time) on how to make what we see and read more inclusive across the British media, is a problem still waiting to be solved.
That’s where PressPad comes in. Launched in 2018 by BBC journalist Olivia Crellin and University of Kent lecturer and journalist Laura Garcia, the duo are tackling the class and race gap specifically in journalism.
As only 11% of journalists in the UK are from working-class homes and 94% of journalists are white, the concept behind PressPad is to send the ladder back down to journalists aged between 18-35 from marginalised communities. Presspad’s goal is to widen the network of journalists by making sure our media has writers, producers, and creatives from all corners of country, instead of being London centric. The social enterprise partners interns with experienced mentors from the industry — who have a spare room.
Since 2018, 50 interns have been placed with senior journalists who have a spare room. On average, the interns helped by the social enterprise are 24 years old and 93% of them are completing an unpaid internship. The idea is that your mentoring will be a reflection of the lifestyle you’d have as a journalist.
Inspired by The Sutton Trust who estimates that the cost of a young person is more than £1000 a month to do unpaid work experience in the capital, wherever you stay with PressPad for the first two weeks will be paid for with any weeks of mentor-hosting afterwards costing £150 per week. If this cannot be covered, PressPad will cover some or all of the cost for you. 15% of all the money PressPad makes goes directly to the bursary fund. On the other hand, if a mentor doesn’t have a spare room, there are other workshops and schemes journalists and mentees can be involved in. That’s why they’ve launched the #DiversifyTheMedia campaign.
So why aren’t national newspapers creating such initiatives if this is necessary for mainstream media? Simple: if you’ve ever worked around newsrooms, you’ll see how time is stretched to do the bare minimum sometimes and due to the administration within these large heritage media brands, the smallest of changes lag behind due to the amount of admin needed. PressPad are essentially help that can be outsourced. By reading the same names in bylines is telling enough on why PressPad is the antidote to what’s needed across media.
Aiming for their stretch target of £35,000 in order to hire a coordinator for their AirBNB cross mentorship schemes with the biggest media organisations such as Sky News, The Guardian and Financial Times, this next chapter for Press Pad is in order to break down more barriers between working-class and minorities aiming to work in radio, broadcast journalism and writing.
“There are lots of very admirable mentorship schemes for people of colour, women, and those with disabilities but we believe that the true barrier – and one that affects many applicants classed as “diverse” – is financial,” says founder Olivia Crellin. “We know there are so many people out there who work in the media but aren’t in a position to put an intern up in their home. This is their chance to get involved as well as anyone who really cares about making the media better.”
An aspiring music journalist from Leicester, Narzra Ahmed, has been helped by PressPad on two occasions and has now been accepted onto a Masters in magazine journalism at City University. “I have been dreaming of becoming a journalist most of my life, but this time last year I was becoming really scared it would never happen. The problem was I didn’t know anyone in London that I could stay with. I realised there was no way I could afford to do work experience without that.”
If you’d like to be a part of the #DiversifyTheMedia campaign, donate here. You’ve got 24 hours left, so go.