Media collaboration offers opportunities to writers from under-represented backgrounds

A new initiative co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and supported by the New Statesman and Daily Mirror aims to increase opportunities for aspiring writers and journalists from under-represented backgrounds.

A WRITING CHANCE is a UK-wide programme, delivered by New Writing North and literature organisations nationally, with research from Northumbria University. It is looking for fresh perspectives and great stories from people whose voices have historically not been heard in publishing and the media.

Through mentoring with established writers and journalists, bursaries, insight days, broadcast and publication with by-lines, A Writing Chance seeks to encourage access for all.

A Writing Chance is designed to discover new talent, support new writers from under-represented backgrounds to break into the creative industries, and allow publishers and editors to make space for a broader range of perspectives.

Who gets to write for the British media we all read?

The media may be one of the most competitive industries to break into. For many new writers, progress does not always correspond to their talent and those with huge potential are often held back by a range of barriers.

A London based industry; unpaid and low-paid internships; the casualisation of jobs; and a reliance on personal contacts, make finding work in the media far more difficult for people from working-class and lower income backgrounds. What’s more, people from these backgrounds often face challenges due to historic under-representation in the media, including ethnicity, disability, sexuality, gender identity, age and religious beliefs.

  • 47% of authors and writers are from the most privileged social starting points, contrasting with only 10% from working-class backgrounds. Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, 2014
  • 12.6% of those working in publishing come from working-class social origins, compared with a third of the population as a whole. Cultural Capital: Arts Graduates, Spatial Inequality, and London’s Impact on Cultural Labor Markets, 2017
  • Newspaper columnists, who significantly shape the national conversation, draw from a particularly small pool, with 44% attending independent school (compared with 7% of the population) and 33% coming through the independent school to Oxbridge ‘pipeline’ alone (compared with less than 1% of the population who attend Oxbridge). Sutton Trust, Elitist Britain 2019
  • Just 0.2% of British journalists are Black (compared to 3% of the population) and 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim (compared to nearly 5% of the population). City University, 2016

Husna Mortuza, Deputy Director of Advocacy and Public Engagement, Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “We are delighted to support ‘A Writing Chance’. This powerful project will bring new voices to the public, and address inclusivity in our media and publishing industries head on.”