A new film gives insight into Community News Project one year in

A year on from the launch of the Community News Project, a new film gives an insight into the scheme’s successes.

The project was announced last November as a partnership between the NCTJ, Facebook and regional news publishers. The objective was to create a minimum of 80 new reporter roles across the UK, working to produce content for and about previously under-served communities.

The first CNP recruit, Steven Collins, started in post in March at the Worcester News; and as of today there are 77 reporters in post.

The nine publishers involved in the project are Archant, Barnsley Chronicle, Baylis Media, JPIMedia, KM Group, Midland News Association, Newsquest, Newbury Weekly News and Reach PLC.  

To date, the community reporters have penned in excess of 170 front page stories in print, and their online journalism had resulted in more than 23 million page views as of the end of last month.

A film to mark the project’s anniversary has been produced by Facebook, and includes interviews with some of those who have been recruited to reporter roles.

Speaking in the film, Gita Juniku, community reporter at the Sheffield Star, said: “I took this job on because I wanted the opportunity to represent my people. I’m Kosovan and Roma and that means a lot to me.”

Laura Andrew, community reporter at the Doncaster Free Press and Sheffield Star said: “Local stories about specific towns do really well because people care about their communities and they want to see themselves represented, and the issues that they feel are important”

Sian Cox-Brooker, news partnerships at Facebook, said: “Over the past year, I've been privileged to meet many of the community reporters and I have been inspired by the work they're doing. From pollution in Cornwall to the Roma community in Sheffield, it's fantastic to see the stories the reporters are uncovering and how they are engaging with local residents.”

Will Gore, the NCTJ’s head of partnerships and projects said: “The Community News Project has come a long way since it was announced last November. And with many reporters now six months or more into their roles, it is becoming abundantly clear that the renewed focus on community stories is striking a chord with audiences.

“From Fife to Exeter, CNP reporters are unearthing stories which resonate with, and tell the tales of, previously underserved communities – helping to re-engage them with their local news publishers. And, by combining on the job learning with formal training for an NCTJ qualification, the CNP recruits are setting themselves on the road to a successful career.”

The NCTJ’s annual Journalism Skills Conference in Sunderland this week will include a panel session on the Community News Project. And at its Awards for Excellence, a prize will be awarded to the CNP reporter of the year for the first time. Forty-seven submissions for the award were received, with seven reporters making the shortlist.