Community News Project extended by Facebook following success of pilot

The Community News Project has been granted renewed funding from Facebook, following the success of the pilot scheme.

The project was launched in 2019 as a partnership between the NCTJ, Facebook and nine regional news publishers, with the aim of supporting quality local journalism and improving the diversity of UK newsrooms.

Seventy-eight CNP reporters are currently in post in newsrooms across England, Scotland and Wales, providing reliable and relevant news to previously underserved communities.

Among that cohort, 68 per cent fall within one or more diversity categories identified by the project, and at least 22 per cent of the community reporters hired by the project are from BAME backgrounds.

It has been announced today that Facebook, which funds the project, will be making a further charitable donation of £2.25 million to the NCTJ in order that the scheme can continue beyond the pilot stage. The additional funding will potentially take the project into 2023.

Sian Cox Brooker, strategic partner manager at Facebook, said: “It’s been a privilege to work with the Community News Project reporters and I’m delighted we’re investing an additional £2.25m and extending the project for another year.

“The CNP is one of our most successful programmes globally and a testament to the importance and vitality of local news in the UK. I look forward to meeting the new reporters and building on our success with our publishing partners and the NCTJ.”

As in the pilot phase of the project, all community journalists will train towards an NCTJ qualification (the Diploma in Journalism for raw recruits, or the NQJ for those who already have the diploma) alongside working in the newsroom.

Of the 162 diploma exams sat by community reporters to date, a gold standard A-C grade has been achieved in 120 exams.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said: “The wonderful news that Facebook is extending this brilliant project is a real boost for journalism and the news industry at such a challenging time.

“The NCTJ is proud to be a partner in a scheme that, thanks to Facebook’s support and the commitment of publishers, provides more journalism jobs, an innovative training scheme based on NCTJ qualifications and makes a real difference to the diversity of local newsrooms.”

Jeremy Clifford, editor-in-chief of JPIMedia, said: “The addition of these reporters in our newsrooms has helped to provide a richness of content that we were not able to acquire previously. We have seen some great stories emerge from their work - reflecting the lives of some of our under-reported communities.

“We look forward to seeing how this scheme develops in its second phase.”

Vacancies will be announced in early 2021.