CEO Blog: Strengthening voices

Posted 13 December 2017

Three months into her role as CEO of Media Trust, Su-Mei shares her thoughts on the media's role in wider society and our upcoming work with charities and community groups which aims to strengthen underrepresented voices.

It’s been a busy and productive three months at Media Trust as we continue in our efforts to help charities and under-represented communities have a stronger voice.

We’ve been spurred on by research – our own and by others – that demonstrates the growing inequality in Britain and concerns that this is going unreported by the media. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s troubling UK Poverty 2017 report issued last week shows that progress made over the last 20 years to reduce poverty in the UK is beginning to unravel and more than one in five people in Britain are living in poverty.

in circumstances like this that the media can play a critical role in changing perceptions and provoking action.

Meanwhile, for his new book The New Poverty, investigative journalist Stephen Armstrong travelled across Britain to meet the most vulnerable and in the process, uncovered stories of huge inequalities of wealth, comfort and life chances that are going largely unreported. Many of the people in the book feel they have been abandoned by politicians – but they have also been let down by the media.

The media industry’s role

At Media Trust, we think that it’s precisely in circumstances like this that the media can play a critical role in changing perceptions and provoking action, and we’re heartened by efforts of organisations from The Bureau Local to the BBC’s Shared Data Unit to WikiTribune that are attempting to connect with local communities, tell public interest stories at a local level and drive greater accountability. We know from our own Charity Communications Skills Survey that closed last week how much charities and community organisations value help with communications and we’ll be sharing more of their feedback with you in the New Year.

At Media Trust, we are doing our best to rise to the challenge. We are honoured and delighted to be working with Grenfell Trust on media training for community leaders and local people affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. We will be working with Weber Shandwick, a long-standing Media Trust corporate partner, to provide them with free training and support.

And thanks to recurring funding from the John Lyon’s Charity, Media Trust’s Volunteer Films project will be returning next year to match even more charity and community projects with professional filmmakers to help them tell their stories through high-impact films.

Raising voices

We were also absolutely delighted to receive a grant from The City Bridge Trust which will enable Media Trust, in partnership with the Equality and Diversity Forum, to strengthen the voices of 30 equality organisations in London and share their impact across the UK. This project will kick off in January.

Creativity works graduates at graduation event at Oath

Our Creativity Works Multimedia Genius trainees at their graduation at City Hall

Increasing diversity in the media industry

Another key area of our work as we look to drive greater connectivity between the media sector and broader society is to encourage more young people from hard to reach, non-traditional, diverse backgrounds to join the sector. Last Tuesday, we celebrated the hard work and success of our fifth cycle of Creativity Works Multimedia Genius trainees at an inspiring and moving graduation ceremony hosted at City Hall by the Mayor’s Fund for London – one of the programme’s key funders, alongside the Berkeley Foundation.

This signature 12-week intensive media and employment skills training programme is for young Londoners aged 18-24 who are not in employment or education. They get six weeks of intensive masterclasses at leading media organisations like Sky News, ITN, Oath, Google, Yahoo! and Sony Music, followed by six weeks of impactful mentoring and employability skills training.

We are ramping up our youth programmes to help address the lack of diversity within the UK’s media and advertising industries.

Since completing the programme, a number of our graduates have secured employment or work experience at leading media companies including Dentsu Aegis Network, ITN and Hearst Magazines to name a few.

We look forward to running the programme for a sixth season in 2018 and to ramping up our youth programmes more generally to help address the lack of diversity within the UK’s media and advertising industries.

Get involved 

If you believe in our work and want to lend your support, here’s how you can help:

Please take the time and encourage your teams and colleagues to look at the volunteer opportunities on our online charity and volunteer matching platform. We have a number of charities looking for help with various communications challenges.

We are also looking for women in media to join our Women’s Voices event on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018), which will bring together female talent from across the media and advertising industries with charities who support women and girls for a half-day of creative brainstorming and advice.

2017 Media Industry World Cup winning team Content Media Corporation

Media Industry World Cup reigning champions, Content Media Corporation.

And finally, if you have a footie team, encourage them to go for glory in our Media Industry World Cup on Saturday 24 March 2018!

Our heartfelt thanks for your ongoing support.

With very best wishes this Christmas from all of us at Media Trust.

Su-Mei Thompson

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