Reach launches new opportunity for aspiring journalists to enter the industry

Top from L-R: Lottie Gibbons, Emilia Bona and Adam Laver all started out doing shifts in Reach newsrooms and now hold permanent roles across the company — you can read their journeys into journalism below

Today Reach announced the launch of a new Talent Pool across its regional Live network, inviting both new graduates and more established journalists to join, as well as students just about to finish their training.

Members of the talent pool will be among the first to get sight of new permanent roles and extra available shifts across Reach titles.

They will also have free access to Reach Academy’s library of resources, including skills sessions, videos and live networking events.

Skills sessions will be made available to all Talent Pool members, and between 30–45 min long. Topics will include:

  • Search and SEO
  • Social best practice
  • Career development
  • Media law
  • Inclusive reporting
  • Court & crime
  • Live reporting
  • TV & trending
  • Newsgathering
  • Newsletters
  • Podcasts

Training will both be in-person and virtual — and there will be a mix of shifts available in the Talent Pool meaning applicants can work from home or on a specific patch. There will also be guest talks and networking sessions with senior journalists and editors a few times a year.

The Talent Pool has been spearheaded by Senior Editor for Training and Development Steve Thompson with backing from Audience and Content Director Ed Walker and in conjunction with the Inclusion team at Reach.

Steve commented: “The Reach Talent Pool has been set up with the aim of kick-starting the careers of the brightest and best new journalists and to simplify the process for those freelancers already working with us.

“We know how hard it can be for talented people to get their foot in the door and hope this will help people build their experience, knowledge and network of contacts while they may still be looking for a permanent role.”

Julie Humphreys, Reach Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion added:

“This Talent Pool represents an important step forward for the diversity of Reach’s editorial talent pipeline, granting dozens of new journalists access to our learning opportunities, as well as giving them the chance to get to know and learn from our most senior editors — connections which can be priceless for someone starting their career.

“We will work with the NCTJ and the Journalism Diversity Fund, as well as our other partners such as MyGWork, Evenbreak, Vercida and WeAreBlackJournos to ensure our Talent Pool group is truly inclusive.”

Earlier this spring existing freelancers and casual staff were invited to join Reach Talent Pool and close to 50 have already signed up. Journalists or those interested in becoming a journalist at Reach can join the Reach Talent Pool by filling in the application form here.

Here three Reach staff share their experiences of how they started out working casual shifts and then moved on upwards in their journalism careers.

Emilia Bona, deputy editor, Reach Wire

Emilia Bona

Working as a casual staff member for Reach allowed me to build up an incredible wealth of experience which helped me earn a place on my first choice NCTJ course, and showed a level of commitment to a career in journalism which helped me secure funding from the Journalism Diversity Fund to complete my studies.

I started at Reach with a work experience placement on the Southport Visiter in June 2014 when I was 20 years old. That summer I also did work experience at Wales Online and the Liverpool ECHO.

After that work experience, bringing in stories and staying in touch with the newsdesk, I was offered a handful of freelance shifts to cover staff absences or big events like the opening of the New Main Stand at Anfield.

I worked my Friday NCTJ placement at the ECHO each week and during this time I expressed interest in applying for jobs on the Southport Visiter and Liverpool ECHO when I finished my course in January 2017. In August 2016 a vacancy on the Visiter became available, and this position was held for me when I finished my course. I finished my exams on the Friday, and started work the following Monday.

In the five years I’ve worked as a full-time staff member for Reach, I’ve been a reporter on the Southport Visiter, trainee reporter on the ECHO, city centre reporter on the ECHO, senior reporter on the ECHO, weekend editor on the ECHO, content editor on the ECHO and now Deputy Editor of the Reach Wire.

Adam Laver, trainee reporter, Lincolnshire Live

I started working casual shifts while studying my masters in Journalism at University of Lincoln in April 2021.

I had applied to cover the May local elections in Skegness as part of the LDR service’s hyperlocal election project.

This aimed to cover local elections in areas where voting turnout was particularly low. I worked three shifts a week for about six weeks.

During this time, a job was advertised for a permanent role as a reporter at Lincolnshire Live, so I applied and thankfully I got an interview and was successful. I started in June 2021.

I am now a trainee reporter covering the east coast working towards my senior exams and I am loving every minute of it.

Freelancing at Reach gave me professional reporting experience which I used to help me land my first permanent role here.

It allowed me to gather contacts in the area I wanted to work in — as well proper paid experience — which gave me an advantage when applying for the role.

It essentially gave me a head start so I could start as a full time reporter in the best possible position. It’s been a year since I started freelancing and I am still using contacts I made during that time and I am still thoroughly enjoying working with the great team at Lincolnshire Live.

Lottie Gibbons, SEO editor, Liverpool ECHO

At 18 years of age, I found myself in the daunting position of trying to decide what career path to take. University fees were at an all-time high and there wasn’t one particular subject I desperately wanted to study.

So, instead of signing up for a three-year degree, I enrolled in a six-month fast-track NTCJ. During the course, a past student told me about the Liverpool ECHO’s work experience scheme for anyone looking to have their first taste of a ‘real’ newsroom.

After contacting the ECHO, I spent a week working across different departments. It was an exhilarating few days interviewing and vox-popping people from various walks of life. On my last day, I was asked if I’d like to cover some seasonal events in the city for the ECHO.

I was delighted and excited to have this opportunity. After completing my NCTJ to gold standard, the ECHO’s editor, Maria Breslin asked if I would like a temporary job on What’s On.

It was a six-month role covering music, culture, food, and fashion in the city. During that time, I learned new skills, such as how to target keywords for SEO and how social media can be used for newsgathering and promoting articles.

Inspired by Emilia, Adam and Lottie? You can start your journey into journalism today by applying to be in the Reach Talent Pool.

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