New London journalism school aims to expand diversity in the industry

A new journalism school aiming to increasing diversity within the industry has opened in south-east London.

The Cocoa School of Journalism and Creative Arts was opened in Beckenham by Cocoa Girl magazine founder Serlina Boyd.

The school was targeted for black children between the ages of 7 and 11 and have taken classes focusing on writing, illustration and design in order to increase representation of black journalists within the industry.

Boyd said: “0.2% of journalists are black and I would like to see that particular percentage increase.

“A lot of the children are those that have come from my culture, I would love to see other children join but I would like to see an increase from the 0.2% figure.”

The initial cohort attracted 24 students, from 7 up to one aged 17.

The course aimed to build up their writing and illustration skills with the goal of each student writing their own book.

They presented their stories on Friday April 10th in front of their parents.

Boyd said: “The sessions were meant to be two hours long, but they were extended as the children didn’t want to go home

“They just wanted to keep writing, it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world.”

Serlina Boyd holding a series of copies of Cocoa Girl magazines. Credit: Serlina Boyd

Boyd explained the difficulty for black people breaking into the industry.

She said that in 18 years working in the publishing industry, she never had another black colleague.

This formed part of her inspiration in setting up the Cocoa Journalism School.

She said: “There are a lot of role models in the news that you don’t hear about and I want to change that.

“I’m training children to do something like I did and have their own publication and become their own role models.”

Boyd hopes to expand the school further in the future with additional holiday and after-school sessions for children if successful.

She also wants to have children from other backgrounds that are disproportionately represented in the industry, such as those with neurodiversity.

She said: “I have never seen anyone with Downs Syndrome present the news and I know that they are capable of that.

“The school isn’t just for black children, but I’m passionate about the opportunities that aren’t given to them and trying to change the statistic.”

For more information about Boyd’s work, visit Cocoa Girl’s website.

Featured Image Credit: Serlina Boyd

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