Croydon MP Sarah Jones has launched a new programme to support aspiring black, Asian and minority ethnic journalists in Croydon in collaboration.

The initiative, a collaboration with Croydon BME forum, will help young people in Croydon develop the experience and networks necessary to secure highly competitive journalism jobs, increasing diversity within the 94% white profession.

According to research just 0.4% of British journalists are Muslim and only 0.2% are black. Nearly 5% of the UK population is Muslim and 3% is black.

The ‘Journey to Journalism’ programme will offer Croydon teenagers from BAME backgrounds work experience with national newspapers, including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Metro and The Sun. Applications will be judged by a panel of leading BAME journalists, including Fatima Manji and Stephen Bush.

Earlier this year, Jones questioned several major senior news editors as part of a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into hate crime challenging editors to do more about potential unconscious bias in newspapers’ portrayal of BAME individuals.

Only a quarter of journalism students find jobs in journalism straight after graduation. Research has found that successful applicants are usually white, male, and from privileged backgrounds.

Young people are required to meet increasing demands for work experience when applying for journalism roles. Jones argued today that this creates a “barrier to entry” for aspiring journalists who do not have personal connections to the industry. Just 12% of journalists come from working-class backgrounds.

Applicants must write a letter and a 250-word on one of five topics - the refugee crisis, Brexit and young people, knife crime and youth violence, the role of technology in society and climate change.

Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central said: “Earlier this year I challenged newspaper editors over unconscious bias in their papers given the lack of BAME journalists.

"They all expressed a desire to increase diversity, and I’m glad they have agreed to offer this exciting opportunity to young people in Croydon.

“Requirements for work experience are too often a barrier to entry in jobs like journalism for those who aren’t lucky enough to have family connections.

"I’m looking forward to working with the Croydon BME Forum and a team of top journalists to uncover the huge potential among Croydon’s young people.”

Andrew Brown, Chief Executive of the Croydon BME Forum, said: “This journalism programme gives talented, BAME students the chance to enter an industry that shapes the way people perceive the world – and perhaps even challenge those established views.

"That’s powerful and it is that process of empowerment and giving a voice to people that embodies what the Croydon BME Forum is all about.”

To apply visit Jones' website: