The Community News Project (CNP) is equipping journalists with essential workplace skills they can use to secure jobs in a range of industries – although they often return to journalism.
The CNP is a partnership between the NCTJ, Meta and regional news publishers to fund reporters for underserved communities and improve the diversity of UK newsrooms.
CNP alumni Elly Roberts initially started working towards her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism via distance learning while she worked in administration.
However, she was able to achieve the diploma after being hired in 2019 to cover the Pinehurst and Penhill, Park North and Park South patches as a CNP reporter for the Swindon Advertiser.
Her reporting in that role was even shortlisted for the NCTJ Awards of Excellence 2019 Community News Project Award.
Then, in 2021, Elly landed a job with the School Libraries Association (SLA) as a publications officer.
She said: “Friends and colleagues at the newspaper world would say ‘it will be so quiet moving to the School Libraries Association’, but then there were all these issues breaking while I was there.”
The 31-year-old added: “The CNP is really great. I loved it because it was a really great training ground being a reporter and being an expert in so many things.
“It grows so many skills you can use in your career.”
After two years with the SLA, Elly’s journalism journey continued with a leap into the magazines sector. Since February 2023, she has been the editor of the Early Years Educator magazine published by Mark Allen Group.
She said: “[The School Libraries Association role] was really nice as a transition – but now it’s nice to have control to make decisions.”
Another CNP alumni, Holly Chant, completed her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism through the CNP scheme while working for the Hackney Gazette.
She was then headhunted by Fastmarkets, a company which reports the trading prices of materials – Holly’s specialism is steel and manganese ore.
Holly said: “They like getting journalists because we have the fundamental skills they need. And then it’s about teaching people about the specific of the steel industry.
“With local news, it’s a different story every day, you are having to become experts quickly. But this is learning about one thing.
“I don’t think I could have done it without doing the CNP. We use a lot of the same skills, like writing, the legal stuff and balance.”
The 32-year-old made a living as a musician and at a catering company before she started as a journalist with the CNP project.
“That’s what was great about the opportunity because it allowed me to learn while I work and while I was getting paid,” Holly added.
“It was really helpful when I wasn’t sure what to do.”
Another success story is Carly-May Kavanagh, who achieved her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism on the fast-track course at Brighton Journalist Works.
She then joined the Mid Sussex Times through the CNP scheme and studied for her NQJ with Bournemouth University.
After two years she was hired as a policy casework officer for Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Brighton and Kemptown MP.
Carly-May said the CNP was “incredibly beneficial”, adding: “I used shorthand all the time, constantly.
“I think part of the reason why they hired me was because of my journalistic background.
“There was so much researching for briefs, interviewing people, taking complex ideas and arguments and being able to distil that down.
“It was what I did all the time. It was a lot of talking to people and writing.”
In January 2022, Carly-May co-founded a new local news website, The Brighton Seagull with her partner Adam Englebright.
She said: “It was not the easiest, but it’s worth the effort it takes.”
Find out more about the CNP scheme here.