Jonathan Miller – Mentor

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan MillerI would like to thank the John Schofield Trust for providing me as a mentor and Jack, my mentee, with an unrivalled opportunity and excuse to explore the pubs of the City of London.

It’s been a bit hit and miss over the summer, what with one or other of us being somewhere else for most of it, but the trusty Calthorpe Arms – allegedly an old IRA pub just up the road from ITN – and Ye Olde Mitre – next to where my old typesetters once stood when I first started out in journalism – have lubricated our discussions of journalistic opportunity and endeavour in a fittingly clichéd journalistic manner.

Jack has also been into Channel 4 News to watch us do our thing, meet reporters, presenters and producers, get a handle on how we do it, and sit in the gallery as the show goes out.

One evening – I think it was our first meeting – I introduced him to younger reporters and producers who came into television news in ways that probably were not possible when I entered the business in 1904.

That said, for all the digital possibilities and explosion of new media and for all the different ways of watching telly, Jack and I are in agreement that it all ultimately comes down to whether or not you’ve got a good story and can tell it well.

Helping him chart out possible routes for launching himself into the business has been fascinating. Jack is serious about this and that is a very good place to be. He’s got a great job right now, which provides him with a mainstay, but Jack’s got plans. Big plans, which I am very confident will see the light of day.

Together, we have devised a strategy. Well, Jack has, mostly. And that reminds me that I still have to set a few things in motion (sorry, Jack) – whereby I rope in friends of mine, fellow journalists who are specialists in the areas where Jack wants to sharpen his wits before the Big Launch.

He’s set a timeframe – which is ambitious but not unrealistic, by which time he intends to have a lengthening list of skills and experiences under his belt and contacts in his phone of those who’ll be the markets for his yarns in the years ahead.

All these must be in place before Jack goes AWOL… with his camera.

I have helped mentor journalists before, but in a less formal way, and there’s something about the commitment which, as a mentor, you take on as a member of the John Schofield Trust scheme, which just adds a sense of this being a proper project, a contract between two people.

It really is a commitment, and yes, it is frustrating when we fail to find a date because one of us is travelling, but between the postponements, cancellations and blow-outs, we have now got things going.

It’s a laugh, but it’s serious too and I anticipate sitting in my rocking chair in my dotage watching Jack on my virtual 3D telly, and thinking back to evenings in the Cally and the Mitre and wishing then that when I was young and full of plans that there’d been a John Schofield Trust to help set me on my way.

I hope this will be a rewarding experience for Jack; I have no doubt that it will be for me – and knowing that it would be was why I signed up to be a mentor for the Trust.