The first group of Community News Project reporters studying towards their senior exams began their training at Darlington College last week.
Launched earlier this year, the Community News Project (CNP) is a partnership between Facebook, the NCTJ and nine regional news publishers which has created 83 new roles focussed on the coverage of previously underserved communities.
The new National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) pathway for community journalists has been developed this year by the NCTJ. It sits alongside existing news and production pathways across varied platforms.
Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, said: “From the outset it was important that the Community News Project should be flexible enough to accommodate both completely raw recruits and those who had already completed the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism.
“The development of a new NQJ for community reporters meant publishers could choose the best candidates for each of the available roles and be assured that appropriate training pathways were available for all.
“We’re delighted that those who are studying towards the higher-level qualification with Darlington College are now underway on the academic front.
“They are already producing high-quality journalism; completing the NQJ – a key marker of a reporter’s development into the more senior ranks – will enable them to take their careers to the next level.”
Darlington College’s curriculum manager for media Sam Eason said: “We are delighted to work with Newsquest, Reach and JPIMedia on training for the new community reporters as they work to engage with audiences at the heart of their communities.”
Jess Molyneux, Knowsley community reporter for the Liverpool Echo said: “It was great spending time with the other reporters and sharing tips on how we can reach and represent our communities at a higher level.
“We also learnt more about our NQJ senior reporter exams which I am looking forward to doing. It's great to have this opportunity and be able to acquire skills and training not only from our individual newsrooms, but from Facebook and the NCTJ."
Rosie Boon, community reporter for the Peterborough Telegraph, said: “I had a great two days with my fellow community journalists. It was so lovely to see what everyone is up to, bounce ideas off each other and give advice. I’m ready and raring to get the NQJ.”
A total of 22 CNP reporters are working towards the NQJ. Those not studying at Darlington College will receive training from Andy Martin, associate editor and community ambassador for the Daily Echo Bournemouth, and Crispin Clark, part-time editorial trainer for the Midland News Association.