Thursday, August 05, 2010

Government cuts make journalism more elitist

Access to becoming a professional journalist has become ever more restricted in recent years as first grants were abolished, then fees shot up and unpaid work experience became the norm.

Submissions to the previous Government's Panel on Fair Access to the Professions showed that more than two-thirds of those entering journalism now came from households where the main wage earner worked in a professional or senior managerial occupation. Under 10 per cent of new entrants came from a working class background, with just three per cent coming from homes headed by semi or unskilled workers.

Now things are set to get worse. Government cuts mean lecturers are being sacked and subsidies for courses being withdrawn. The NCTJ pre-entry course at Warwickshire College is to close. The withdrawal of subsidies meant the course fees more than doubled to £3700 and unsurprisingly too few students signed up. The only NCTJ-accredited photojournalism course at Sheffield was also facing closure but has been reprieved, but only at the expense of increased fees.

The government talks of social mobility - but its cuts are having the exact opposite effect. It is bad enough with the lack of enforcement of the National Minimum Wage allowing employers to get away with exploiting new entrants and breaking the law without students from poorer backgrounds being priced out before they even begin.

1 comment:

CTJT said...

Journalism does not have to be elitist if everyone involved in training does their bit to prevent it - and that includes colleges and universities, unions and the training councils.

Here at CTJT, we reduce our prices sometimes down to zero on our 7 NCTJ exam courses.

The full fee is £694.50 - we give 50% discount to people on benefits or less well-off backgrounds, AND allow them to pay over 12 months - just £29 a month.

We also plough 10% of our income into scholarships and have dozens of students do our courses for nothing. They include the disabled, unemployed, disadvantaged and many who have been priced out by expensive NCTJ colleges and training centres.

If we can do it, anyone can! As ever, when there's genuine will, there's a way. Sadly, providing genuine help for those who need it is not often high on the public agenda.