Interviews, hustings and vox pops: Community news reporters cover election campaigns across UK

Community news reporters have been keeping their audiences informed ahead of the general election on Thursday, 4 July.

Community news reporters have been out and about keeping pace with all the twists and turns of the general election as the UK races towards polling day next week.

The local journalists, hired as part of the Community News Project (CNP), have been vox-popping, interviewing politicians and attending hustings in order to keep their audiences informed ahead of the general election on Thursday, 4 July.

The CNP is a partnership between the NCTJ, Meta and regional news publishers to improve the diversity of UK newsrooms and support the coverage of underserved communities.

SurreyLive community news reporter Victoria Shipp said the election period has been “exciting to have so much happening all at once”.

Victoria Shipp

She attended a local hustings on her patch, her first as a journalist.

“It was useful to confirm the issues which are important in the community,” Victoria said.

“You can have an idea what the main issues are but to go and hear what people want to talk about was really useful in informing what I will write about in the future.”

Victoria, 22, previously studied history at the University of Exeter before she was hired as a community news reporter, and is currently training for her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Darlington College alongside her work in the newsroom.

Daniel Walton

Daniel Walton, who covers the West Midlands for the Express & Star, said he has used community connections to garner opinions from a variety of people in the local area.

For example, when Rishi Sunak announced a pledge to introduce national service for teenagers, Daniel visited the City of Wolverhampton College to get students’ reaction.

He said: “The community is pretty engaged, I would say. There are some demographics who are more chatty than most; students are always up to talk about the election and local businesses can have really big opinions about it.”

Daniel, 30, has worked at the Express & Star since September 2022. Through the CNP, he studied for his NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at The Sheffield College and is now aiming to pass his shorthand exams before taking the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

Finn Smith, community news reporter at the Barnsley Chronicle, interviewed Nigel Farage on his campaign trail bus.

Nigel Farage on the campaign trail in Barnsley

The 24-year-old said the politician’s team was not specific about exactly where his campaign bus would go – with him and other journalists aboard “going with the flow”.

Finn said: “It was quite calm when I arrived, I got footage of him meeting and greeting people and I interviewed him.

Finn Smith

“This was the first time I had done a really high-profile interview and it was close, quite personal, just me and him. I was nervous on the way over but as soon as I started it was enjoyable.”

However, when the bus reached the town centre, a protest erupted.

Finn, who is also working towards his NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Darlington College, said: “It got a bit scary I guess, but I just jumped in and started getting footage and talking to people.”

Finn (far left) capturing video of Nigel Farage on his phone

Tai Kolade, community news reporter at MyLondon, said the election period is “one of the most exciting times to be in a newsroom”.

“It’s a chance to do some new and exciting things,” he added.

Tai, 20, achieved his NCTJ Diploma in Journalism on a sports journalism master’s at the University of Brighton and is now working towards his NQJ as part of the CNP, training with Darlington College.

He has been speaking to local people as part of Reach’s 5000 Voices project, a video series running across its UK national and local titles which aims to collect thousands of vox pop clips in the run up to the election.

Tai Kolade

Tai said: “It’s all a big learning curve – but I was talking to my editor and we came up with an action plan.

“The Community News Project is a good scheme to help me find my feet.”

The CNP has seen more than 280 reporters hired to cover underserved communities while working towards an NCTJ qualification.

Find out more about the CNP here.

In the run up to the election, the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy is offering a short e-learning course at a discounted rate for NCTJ students. Reporting on Elections teaches the basics of election reporting and provides essential information on the many rules and protocols in place. Email to find out more.

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive the NCTJ’s eJournalism newsletter. Sent once a month, it will keep you up to date with the latest news and developments in journalism training.