Community News Project reporter teaches local teenagers using his documentary before it screens in Europe

Newbury News community news reporter, Mirek Gosney, created the documentary about his great-grandfather's experiences during World War II.

A Community News Project reporter has been educating young people in his area about World War II by showing them a documentary he created, which is shortly to be screened in Europe.

Mirek’s premiere in London. Credit: Stephen Potter

Mirek Gosney’s film, Building Hitler’s Empire: Forced and Slave Labour in the Third Reich, raised £520 for the British Red Cross’ Ukraine Crisis Fund when it premiered in Britian at the Czech Embassy in London in October last year.

It is about his great-grandfather and namesake, Miroslav (Mirek) Jeřábek, who was a Czech mechanic forced by the Nazi regime to work in Germany from 1942-1945.

The 25-year-old was editing the documentary when he started as a community news reporter at the Newbury News in September 2022.

He said: “My great-grandfather is someone I have never met, but I feel like I got to know him, and I built a picture up of his life through old postcards and talking to people, so it has become personal.

“It was an interesting journey, starting from going through a dusty old box to touring around different countries with the documentary.”

He is set to bring the film to Czechia on Saturday, 24 February with a showing in Hradec Králové, near to the village of Stěžery where Mirek’s great-grandfather lived.

Mirek’s great-grandfather and his colleagues at the garage where they worked in Saalfeld, Germany.

Mirek is hoping to bring the film to Saalfeld in Germany next, where his great-grandfather worked and where he filmed interviews with the garage’s current owners.

“Across the board, people understood it wasn’t about blame or pointing the finger,” Mirek said. “It is about telling the victims’ stories.”

The Community News Project is a partnership between the NCTJ, Meta and regional news publishers, which launched in 2019 and has seen over 280 reporters hired to support the coverage of underserved communities.

Mirek has been studying for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at City of Portsmouth College, alongside his work in the Newbury newsroom.

On Thursday, 25 January, Mirek gave a talk about his documentary to Year 12 students at St Bartholomew’s School in Newbury.

He said: “(The Community News Project) has been great, really interesting.

Mirek Gosney. Credit: Stephen Potter

“One of my passions is history so I was already out talking to people and telling stories, and this job has been an extension of that.

“I’ve developed so many skills. As I was editing the documentary, I started the NCTJ’s video production module – that was a whole different style of video I wasn’t used to, and it complemented what I was doing.”

Meta confirmed it will not renew funding for the Community News Project when its current phase draws to an end.

Mirek’s documentary is available to watch as a three-part series online, here.

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