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Frequently Asked Questions

“He was a delightful young man who never allowed his professional ambitions and ability to overshadow his good nature and unassuming manner.”

David Mannian

Why run a mentoring scheme for journalists?
What are the aims of the John Schofield Trust’s mentoring scheme?
What are the advantages of mentoring?
Why should I volunteer to be a mentor?
What are the benefits of being a mentor?
How much time-commitment do mentors have to give?
What are the mentors’ responsibilities?
What doesn’t a mentor do?
How will the mentoring scheme benefit the news industry?
I’m a journalist just starting out. Can I apply for the scheme?
How will mentors and mentees be matched?
Selection criteria for mentees
Who are the mentors?
Can I choose my mentor?
Confidentiality
What is the Trust’s stance on equal opportunities?
How do I apply to take part in the scheme as a mentor?
How do I apply to take part in the scheme as a mentee?
What is the cost?
How often should mentors and mentees meet up?
What are the key dates for this year’s scheme?
Support for mentors and mentees

Why run a mentoring scheme for journalists?

The John Schofield Trust has a key role to play in turning young journalists into better journalists; better journalism is vital in societies which value free speech, robust questioning and a process of transparency.

The broadcast and online news industry is a competitive and fragmented field. There are many excellent young journalists who need an opportunity to break out from the pack and realise their full potential. The news industry risks losing some of its best stars and we want to help them navigate their careers. The John Schofield Trust is dedicated to the development of young journalistic talent.

John Schofield was defined by his immense ability, but also by his friendliness and his collegiate approach to journalism. The trustees hope to replicate this spirit across the mentoring scheme by supporting and encouraging the professional development of young talent. All of the mentoring is voluntary.

What are the aims of the John Schofield Trust’s mentoring scheme?

• To enrich understanding of the breadth of the profession.
• To promote equality of opportunity and diversity in the news industry.
• To discuss career options.
• To facilitate contacts and networks.
• To increase confidence.
• To learn about the range of roles in the news industry.

What are the advantages of mentoring?
There is no substitute for one-to-one advice and encouragement from someone who is successful in their chosen profession. Mentoring is the process by which one person assists another to grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment.

Why should I volunteer to be a mentor?
The John Schofield Trust’s mentoring scheme enables seasoned journalists to share their professional experience by providing realistic advice about breaking into a particular field or suggesting ways for young journalists to develop their careers. The scheme will encourage journalists to be active professionals in the industry.

Being a mentor is a challenging, stimulating and hugely rewarding experience. You can develop coaching and counselling skills that are transferable to your personal and professional life. Mentoring can revitalise your interest in your current work and develop your own understanding of key issues through reflection with your mentee.

The role of mentors ranges from acting as a role model, a sounding board, a guide and a skills developer to an advocate and a champion. A mentor provides support and resources to a young journalist through regular contact, e.g. one-to-one meetings, telephone calls, emails, tweets.

What are the benefits of being a mentor?
• It broadens your own skills and knowledge.
• It may provide a different dimension to your current role.
• It brings new insights into the profession.
• It enables you to demonstrate additional skills in developing those of others.
• It consolidates and extends your professional and personal networks.
• It gives satisfaction from offering support to another journalist, contributing to the development of the news profession and contributing to another person’s development.
• It improves ability to share experience and knowledge.
• It gives the mentor valuable volunteering experience.

How much time-commitment do mentors have to give?
You need to offer a time-commitment of no fewer than three face-to-face meetings in the course of the year, and monthly contact, e.g. via email, telephone, tweeting, social networking websites. Mentors will only be assigned to one mentee.

What are the mentors’ responsibilities?
• Initiate first contact in which the mentor should ensure the mentee understands the purpose of mentoring and that a working contract is created (see ‘time-commitment’ section).
• Provide friendly professional support and guidance relating to problems raised by the mentee.
• Help to clarify the mentees’ performance goals and development needs.
• Share formal and informal knowledge of the systems and relationships within the industry.
• If appropriate and where possible, arrange introductions to useful contacts to enable the mentee to begin to develop their own network.
• Inform mentee of educational opportunities such as workshops and conferences, and encourage participation.

What doesn’t a mentor do?
• Find the mentee a job.
• Give personal counselling or assertiveness training.
• Give continuous advice on how to do a job, e.g. daily telephone calls, supervision.
• Be an expert able to solve all problems raised.

How will the mentoring scheme benefit the news industry?
It offers a partnership where the mentor and mentee as well as the news industry can all benefit.

The scheme aims to maximise individuals’ own potential leading to a positive impact on the news-gathering industry.

The scheme aims to develop a far-seeing collaboration within the news industry, through providing opportunities for individuals to network and learn across the industry sector. The scheme will help to grow talent by understanding the needs of an individual and matching them to someone who can add real value in that specific area.

The scheme will promote the mentor’s news agency’s identity within the sector as mentors’ names and employers will be published on the John Schofield Trust website and related literature.

The scheme aims to improve the retention of young journalists in the industry. It will help advance the practice, professionalism, educational standards and status of journalism within the UK.

I’m a journalist just starting out. Can I apply?
The John Schofield Trust mentoring scheme is intended to benefit young journalists with a minimum of two years’ experience, and a maximum of five.
As a young journalist, the scheme will help you:

• Understand the world of journalism in Britain and identify opportunities.
• Identify key areas where you might need to improve your skills and develop your confidence as a journalist.
• Identify knowledge gaps.
You’ll be matched with a senior industry practitioner who’s an expert in their field.

Benefits for mentee:
• You may find that being mentored helps increase your self-esteem and confidence or helps you explore new ideas, tackle challenges and opportunities that may have seemed out of reach. It may help you identify a new career path.
• It helps in the process of understanding the formal and informal structures of the news industry.
• It helps with developing skills, both professional and personal, in a structured way based on individual needs.
• It improves professional and personal networks – extremely useful in a field such as journalism.
• It provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your own progress and resolve your own professional problems in a confidential and informal environment with someone other than your line manager.
• It allows you to meet other journalists.
• Working with a mentor will increase your motivation through sharing experiences and getting one-to-one feedback.

How will mentors and mentees be matched?
• The mentor will not be from the same news organisation as the mentee.
• Mentors should have at least five years’ professional work experience in the news industry.
• Subject to the availability of mentors, the scheme matches participants based on areas of interest, work environment and experience and geographic location.
• Mentees will be matched by a sub-committee of journalists who support the Trust.

Selection criteria for mentees
To be considered as a possible mentee, you need to meet the following criteria:

• You must be working as a journalist in the UK, either employed or freelance. The scheme is not designed to help those who are still in education.
• You must be in the broadcast and/or online sector.
• You must agree that you will use the mentoring scheme for its proper purposes, and not abuse the contact with the mentors, who are helping us voluntarily.

Being a John Schofield Trust mentee will put you in direct contact for a year with some of the leading journalists in British broadcasting. To help us make a fair selection from the applicants, we need you to provide two things:

1. a written answer to the question ‘Why I should be a mentee of the John Schofield Trust’ in no more than 200 words;
2. we would like to see a supportive testimonial from an established senior journalist or journalism tutor – it might be a senior reporter, the editor of a publication you have worked on, or someone who has taught you on a recognised and accredited journalism course.

The selection panel is made up of the trustees and supporters of the Trust.

Applications for the 2013 scheme open on 1 January 2013 and close at 5pm, 31 January 2013.

Download the application form here.

Who are the mentors?
You will see that the John Schofield Trust has a large number of supporters from the news industry. You will probably recognise some of the names as belonging to journalists who operate in front of the microphone. There are also supporters of the Trust who work behind the microphone.

Mentors will be taken from this pool of supporters on a rotating annual basis. Follow this link to see who the mentors are for this year.

Can I choose my mentor?
No. Great care will be taken to match you with a mentor who is best qualified to help you in your situation.

Confidentiality
All information shared by trustees, mentors and mentees will be treated as confidential. Participants will agree not to do anything which might bring the John Schofield Trust into disrepute.

What is the Trust’s stance on equal opportunities?
One of the scheme’s stated aims is to ensure equality of opportunity.

There are many under-represented groups in the news industry and we hope that the mentoring scheme will be a way to open the door wider for those groups.

The trustees aim to ensure that the pool of mentors should reflect the diversity of society.

Particular attention should be given to the issues that may be faced by under-represented groups and appropriate sensitivity will be exercised in the allocation of a mentor so as to ensure, where feasible, that the mentor has an appropriate understanding of those issues.

How do I apply to take part in the scheme as a mentor?
Experienced journalists will be invited to volunteer as mentors by the trustees.

Trustees will also contact news organisations for their own nominations from within their workforce for both mentors and mentees.

Once mentors have agreed to take part, they will sign a declaration of confidentiality. Mentors will see their mentees’ application form and reference ahead of the scheme starting.

How do I apply to take part in the scheme as a mentee?
Places are limited (up to 25 places) and there is a formal application process. Candidates are expected to have a minimum of two (and a maximum of five) years’ experience within the news-gathering industry.

Applications from candidates will be accepted from 1-31 January in the year the mentoring scheme will start. Candidates need to fill out (and email) an application form outlining their current experience, their career plans, key issues and challenges that they face. As part of the application, candidates will be asked to write a 200-word description on why they think they deserve to be a John Schofield Trust mentee.

They will also need a supporting statement from a professional referee.

Candidates will also sign a declaration of confidentiality as part of their application.

What is the cost?
There is no cost to applicants who are selected to participate in this scheme. Mentees will need to budget for any travel expenses incurred to attend one-to-one meetings with their mentors.

All mentors are volunteers.

How often should mentors and mentees meet up?
The content and frequency of contact should be negotiated between the mentor and the mentee. There should be a minimum of two face-to-face meetings a year, and monthly contact (via email, telephone, tweets, social online networking sites). We also recommend that mentor and mentee meet three months into the scheme (in July) to review how the mentoring scheme is going.

What are the key dates for this year’s scheme?
• Up to 25 ‘mentorships’ to be launched in the first year with a view to increase thereafter.
• Applications from mentees and their supporting nominations open from 1-31 January (at 5pm) in the year of the mentoring scheme.
• Selection of mentees by sub-committee of Board in January.
• Matching of mentors with mentees to happen in February.
• Mentors and mentees will be notified of their match in February by members of selection sub-committee.
• Mentor schemes to start in April, with first contact arranged for April, to last for a year.
• A meeting to be held three months later (in July) to review how the mentoring scheme is going for mentor and mentee.

Support for mentors and mentees
Prior to meeting for the first time mentors and mentees are welcome to contact one of the trustees to discuss these guidelines and their role.

Written guidelines will be issued by the Trust for mentors and mentees. This will include a declaration of confidentiality which all parties will need to sign before their mentoring starts.

The trustees strongly recommend that mentors and mentees hold a three-month review meeting to assess the mentoring scheme.

The John Schofield Trust will also act as an ongoing contact and can be contacted by mentors and mentees at any time.

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