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A Writing Chance

Fresh Stories from Under-represented Voices

A Writing Chance is open to new and aspiring storytellers from under-represented backgrounds. We’re looking for fresh perspectives and great stories from people whose voices have historically not been heard in publishing and the media. 

Successful applicants will receive one of ten £1,500 bursaries, one-to-one mentoring with industry leaders, publication of work and more. Apply via the link below by 6pm, Friday 26 March.

This UK-wide project is co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and supported by media partners New Statesman and Daily Mirror. The project is delivered by New Writing North and literature organisations nationally, with research from Northumbria University.

Adjusting the lens

Representation matters. The media frames how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. The best writing shows us who we are by shining a torch on untold stories and experiences, illuminating truths and bringing injustices and structural inequalities into the light. 

But research tells us that the people writing and setting the agenda do so through a relatively narrow prism of experience. We think it’s time to open up the industry so we can all benefit from a richer culture. 

A Writing Chance is a positive intervention, designed to discover new talent, support new writers from under-represented backgrounds to break into the creative industries, and empower 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, but it isn’t a meritocracy.

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.

It’s not right that a London-centric 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, those from working-class backgrounds often face intersecting challenges due to historic under-representation in the media, including but not limited to ethnicity, disability, sexuality, gender identity, age and religious beliefs.

In our society this is wrong.

  • 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). 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

A Writing Chance: the opportunity

Mentoring and publication for new writers

We are looking for new and aspiring writers from working-class and lower income backgrounds to take part in A Writing Chance. 

We especially welcome submissions from people who face intersecting challenges from historic under-representation in the media, including but not limited to those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic, disabled and/or any other historically marginalised backgrounds.

 

Each successful applicant (ten spaces) will receive: 

  • A bursary of £1,500 to participate in the project
  • One-to-one mentoring with an experienced writer or journalist
  • An invitation to Insight Days with the media partners, either in person or online
  • Publication with byline (in print or online) by one of the media partners, including the Daily Mirror or New Statesman, or broadcast as a podcast.

How to get involved

It’s easy to apply to take part in A Writing Chance, and applications will be accepted until 26 March 2021.

To apply, you will be asked to tell us a bit about yourself and your background, and to submit an original piece of journalism, non-fiction or /creative writing, up to 500 words on the theme ‘Life in 2020-2021’.

  • All applicants will be invited to a free digital seminar, Introduction to Writing and Journalism, led by industry experts. 
  • Up to 30 applicants will be shortlisted and offered the chance to write a short piece for consideration and paid a fee of £100.
  • Ten people will be selected for a place on A Writing Chance. 

The project has an Access fund to support the needs of those participants who may need extra support.

We are also interested in hearing from additional potential media partners, please get in touch if you would like more information. Contact laurafraine@newwritingnorth.com

Apply by 26 March 2021

Eligibility criteria
Application form

Project Partners

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