After just a couple of years working on successful training projects with Facebook, the NCTJ is now a partner in the £4.5m Community News Project to help local journalism continue to thrive in a digital age.
All the partners will agree it’s been a whirlwind since the project was announced in November and the official launch at the Behind Local News conference at the end of January. Newsquest had already started a recruitment campaign and the other publishers quickly joined them in the drive to recruit talent from their communities.
The publishers have received more than 4,200 applications for 82 jobs and more than 60 per cent of the positions have already been filled. Interviewing continues for the remaining vacancies.
What’s particularly thrilling for the NCTJ, where equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our mission, is the determination of all the partners to open up journalism careers to people from all walks of life.
We are keen to ensure the roles are open equally to raw talent, school leavers and graduates, and those with or without the NCTJ diploma, although, of course, trainees with the diploma join on a higher salary and start training immediately for their senior qualification. We are pleased to see new recruits who are changing careers because they are so passionate about giving a voice to their communities.
Attracting talent from a wider range of backgrounds and entry levels has challenged NCTJ modes of entry as well as some of the ways the publishers normally recruit. It’s always tempting to limit recruitment to those who can hit the ground running and already have the industry’s professional pre-entry qualification. With this project, we have a unique opportunity to support the development of a new breed of diverse reporters.
In overseeing the recruitment and selection process, which is one of the NCTJ’s quality assurance responsibilities, we have been observing some of the interviews to ensure there is best practice and consistency. Editors don’t normally have their recruitment activities scrutinised and supervised, and we don’t normally have access so it’s been an interesting exercise for all parties!
Going forward, we will be checking in regularly with the reporters and their mentors, ensuring trainees are getting what they need to report effectively in their communities. Facebook’s funding is being used for equipment, training, qualifications and salaries.
Naturally, the NCTJ has been working closely with the partners to devise the training scheme for community reporters. We have been busy customising modules and assessments to ensure high standards of community journalism. We have fast tracked completion of new digital and data journalism diploma options so they are ready for delivery by our training partners from September.
All the foundations are now in place to make this project a big success. We’re looking forward to the next stage when all the reporters have started working and training, and seeing how the reporters have an impact on their communities, their newsrooms and their careers.