Mentoring program examples are a terrific thing, but ONLY if they are GOOD examples. Therein lies your challenge here – sorting out the good from the bad and the ugly. For help in thinking about this, be sure that first you have read the previous “Cautions’ page. THEN, feel free to proceed looking at the example below.
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This article is based on the interview of Don Holt, former Managing Editor of the International Edition of Newsweek Magazine. Click here to read “Insights on Mentoring in Journalism”.
Don Holt’s insight number 15 from the above mentioned article was,
“Formal mentoring programs do happen in journalism when there are specific needs identified as critical to the organization, such as gender or ethnic inequities. Therefore, if these programs are effective and the needs are addressed, these programs may not have extended lives.”
Here are two examples of such formal responses from Don’s experience.
1. Gender Inequity
It was found that a general hiring pattern existed which was a clear case of discrimination:
- Males from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. were hired to be writers.
- Females from Barnard, etc. were hired to be researchers.
Investigation revealed that there were two issues needing to be addressed. – one issue was of preparation, the other was an issue of manager attitudes because of the lack of adequate preparation.
- University journalism programs appeared (at that time at least) to funnel women into researcher role education and away from writing careers.
- The Newsweek managers who did the hiring (accurately) believed that these roles were appropriate to persons of those genders because the new hires were not prepared for other roles.
Challenging the established university programs was begun, but that was viewed as a very complex and longer-term solution. Therefore, a mentoring program was developed to address the problem in-house. The mentor program had the goal of development of women to give them the skills needed for roles as writers so that managers would begin to view these women as adequately prepared for that role.
2. Ethnic Inequity
The generally low numbers of minorities in journalism at Newsweek was viewed as a result of these persons having been disadvantaged in several ways. The organization’s remedy was a mentoring program that sought to develop opportunities, mentoring, and training for minority new hires.
This mentoring program was structured as a tree part system: summer internship, training, and mentoring effort.
The goals were:
- to attract minority persons in university journalism degree programs to be interns in the organization each summer;
- to identify areas in which individual program participants needed additional learning to succeed in the career;
- to provide experienced mentors to individualize the support, encouragement, and teaching the individual interns needed to succeed in journalism;
- to develop the individuals’ strengths, the organization’s awareness of those strengths, and sufficient connection of the individuals to the organization, such that greater numbers of skilled minority persons could be hired after their graduation.