The Philip Geddes Mentor scheme aims to match undergraduate journalists with mentors who are, or have been, working in the media. It is due to be trialled in this academic year.
Mentors, some of whom will be past winners of prizes, will be matched to individuals interested in their particular area of expertise – whether it is sports, general news, features, foreign, production, or some other branch of the journalist’s trade.
The hope is that mentors will give some informal help and advice on the journalism students undertake at Oxford – how to develop a news story for Cherwell, perhaps, or how to sharpen the look of a web page.
Presently many work hard on student publications, but they have few sources of professional advice. Journalism is, of course, not taught at Oxford University. There is a lot of scope for students to sharpen their skills through informal relationships with practising journalists.
Ideally these relationships would carry on for those who want to try to get jobs in the media – harder now than perhaps ever before. Undergraduates who do not have close relatives already in journalism, and so are in greatest need of an inside guide, will be given priority in the scheme. Philip Geddes was one such – his father was a tailor in Barrow-in-Furness, but he had already made it to Fleet Street by his early twenties.