Scheme pairs Cornish students with international journalists

In a world where news stories are created and absorbed instantaneously, it’s so important that people with a fresh take enter the realm of journalism. To help inspire the next generation of reporters, a group of students from a local college were given the chance to join an e-mentoring scheme lead by experts in the field.

The students sitting around a table while being filmed by a cameraman

The John Scofield Trust is an organisation dedicated to supporting new journalists. One of the ways they do this is by pairing students with a mentor who is currently working in the media industry. Nine enthusiastic students from Truro College were only too pleased to make the most of this 12-week programme, jumping at the chance to try their hands at journalism.

“Anybody, even if you don’t think that journalism is for you, should have a look at it. Journalism itself has many different areas that a student might be interested in such as music, sport or the environment – there are specialisms students can go into so a passion for a subject could be the start of a career in journalism,” said Kate Riley, one of the trustees for the John Schofield Trust and one of this year’s mentors.

Throughout the 12 weeks the students would communicate with their mentor through an online portal, through which they could send pieces of their work for checking. This process gave them the chance to experience first-hand the process involved in journalism and in-turn letting them know if it’s a career they might wish to pursue.

Most of the students interacted with their mentors at least once a week, which gave them the chance to engage with researchers, reporters, producers and documentary makers from the BBC, CNN, Channel 4 and Channel 5, across platforms such as television, radio and digital.

At the end of the programme, students were able to spend the day at Falmouth University in the department of Writing and Journalism. During the day they were given tours, talks and even the chance to create their own podcasts, which was a great way to round-off the journalistic experience of the programme.

Freya Cooper, who is currently studying A Levels in English Literature and Language, Environmental Science, Modern History and Philosophy of Religion and Ethics as well as the Academic Academy, found the experience to be incredibly useful, saying:

“I have gained a clear insight and understanding of what it means to be a journalist. It has really impacted me in a very positive way as I am really considering a career in some sort of journalism or broadcasting, something I hadn't thought seriously about before. Although I am still not very confident in myself I now have faith that I have enough in me one day to be a good writer.”

Sian Gaston, English lecturer and coordinator of the creative writing group at the College, was thrilled that the students were afforded this opportunity.

“This experience has been invaluable for the students in terms of having a professional from the field of journalism take the time to provide constructive and detailed feedback on their work and this has helped them improve not only their writing techniques but has given them the confidence that this could be a realistic career path for them.”

Of her mentee Molly, Kate said: “It was a real pleasure mentoring Molly, she was a real bright spark right from the first moment she got in touch. She clearly got a lot out of it but I want to emphasise that I did too. It’s great as a mentor when you’re at the end of your journalism career to feel that you can pass on some of your knowledge and your experience to someone who is much younger and who is at a very critical point in their life when they’re making big decisions.”