Reporting Communities Award

Scroll down to meet the nominees for the Reporting Communities Award

This award seeks to recognise the tremendous work that goes on in regional newspapers to ensure all communities are well covered. Entries can come from individual journalists or news teams that can show how they have ensured the diverse communities in their publication’s region are well served and that their journalists reach out to provide reporting that is inclusive and all-encompassing regardless of ethnicity, ability, faith or sexuality.

Click on the articles to read in detail. 

The Shortlist

Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times

Ann says about her submission:

 “Alongside the hard news and strong campaigns of the Glasgow (Evening) Times, sit our features about the city’s communities and our community campaign Streets Ahead, which has been running for nine years.

“The idea is to encourage friends and neighbours to work together to improve their streets, gardens, parks and neighbourhoods.

“As a writer with the title for 22 years, telling those stories is the best part of my job. I love bringing the stories of the city’s communities – heartbreaking, happy, nostalgic, insightful by turns – to life.

“A Glasgow newspaper should always hold the city and its institutions to account and criticise where necessary – but it should also celebrate the amazing achievements and pursuits of its citizens. I’m all about the joy….”

 The judges said: 

The voices of the community come over loud in this excellent portfolio. Fotheringham knows just how to unlock a range of important grass-roots stories and is clearly at the top of her game. First class work from an experienced writer.

Catriona Stewart, Herald & Times Group

“Govanhill is the most diverse area of Scotland and one of the most diverse in the UK. Not only do we have 62 languages spoken here, we also have the second largest Roma population in Britain,” writes Catriona.

“The south side of Glasgow community is really small and was already densely populated before 5000 Roma also moved in. The new residents have caused tensions in the area due to overcrowding and fly tipping and refuse issues. It’s renowned as a deprived area with high crime rates, racial tensions and extreme poverty. I love it.

“There is so much going on in the way of social enterprise and entrepreneurship. As I’ve covered the area for so long I have a vast contacts book of people who trust me not to sensationalise issues and to provide fair and balanced stories.

“I’ve also pitched in and now volunteer in the area and take part in events when I can, most recently giving media training for the charity Migrant Voice to help give newcomers the confidence to tell their stories against a difficult backdrop of racism.

“Not everyone is happy, as I touch on in my column, and not all the anti-poverty work is straightforward, as I write about in the foodbank piece after volunteering there for a day. And you can’t help but celebrate the work being done by shoestring charities such as The Well.

“I also covered a human trafficking trial last year, live tweeting the High Court case and providing print and digital coverage of the trial as the only reporter to attend every day. I was the only reporter to be given access to the lead prosecutor and senior officers involved. I’ve chosen not to include court coverage as I’d like Govanhill’s story to be more than the scandals.”

The judges said: 

Beautifully written, well-researched and relevant. Catriona is clearly heavily involved in her area and has become something of a personality there.

I particularly liked her opinionated column on Govanhill. She shows both sharp observational skills and compassion in her writing.

Kathryn Williams, WalesOnline

“As a Welsh reporter for Welsh media representing where I come from is hugely important to me,” says Kathyrn.

“With a working class, South Wales valleys background I feel that nationally and sometimes even locally, the valleys communities are under-represented, often misrepresented and live under a cloud of tiresome cliches.

“This is why regional news matters. And if we do it well we are trusted and valued.

“Below are three pieces which are of great importance to me, I wrote them with almost 40-years of background knowledge, I wrote them in a way no other reporter at WalesOnline could. And while acknowledging that many communities aren’t perfect, I am honoured to be able to shine a light on the brilliant, real, grassroots stories no one else might think to write.

“The story of Station Cafe uncovered things for me I’d never known, despite it being in my hometown. I felt privileged to speak to and tell the Balestrazzi’s family story, I could ask them questions no other reporter would realise needed to be asked, like why the jukebox listing stayed locked in 1989 – if you read it, you might need a tissue.

“Just a few miles down the road I focused on the community of Tonypandy, regularly listed a one of the UK’s worst high streets. People there were angry, hurt, nostalgic but also desperate for the town to move forward. I donned my valleys armour – a sturdy waterproof and a steely attitude – to take on these angry people, who it turned out were happy to tell their side of the story. Communities like Tonypandy are proud, but don’t want to be forgotten – I loved helping them hit back.

“Finally, the exact opposite to Tonypandy, Treorchy has just won the Visa Great British High Street of the Year 2019 – and has been pushing back against the cliche of forgotten working class high streets with a vengeance. I wrote about it mid-campaign, and the story of community that oozes out of success almost made my job too easy – but not quite. It was a no-brainer for me to highlight this success in a very enjoyable community-focused feature.”

 The judges said: 

Excellent, well-researched features with real people telling real stories about their lives in Wales.

Great in-depth coverage of her “patch” and an ability to come up with quirky little gems like the juke box – warm, human and ultimately optimistic pieces.

Liverpool Echo Facebook Community Reporters (Jess Molyneux & Lisa Rand), Liverpool Echo

The Echo’s Jess Molyneux writes about the team’s submission:

As a team we are on the ground in the heart of our communities. The borough of Knowsley and the Liverpool 8 area have not previously been covered in depth, except in what could be perceived as negative stories. These areas have experienced long-term social and economic issues, and high levels of deprivation. Residents are so underrepresented that there is often a lack of trust and hostility towards the media, challenging us to use more traditional journalism techniques, as well as running individual hyperlocal Facebook groups, to engage members of the community. As the first point of contact for community news stories and through reaching out to more residents, we have increased the diversity of our publication, featuring stories of those who would not have previously been given a voice.

Article 1: “My life has been at threat for wearing a hijab but I’m still optimistic”

Amina, a young Muslim woman, spoke about her experiences of racism and struggles with her heritage, and about what it means to have a Yemeni and Scouse identity, as well as how art and activism helped her turn negative experiences into a platform for change. Amina is seen as a role model in Liverpool’s Arabic community and featuring her story meant giving a voice to this underrepresented group. I met her at a community event and had arranged a profile piece with her. She then experienced and live-tweeted an incident of racism on a train and, due to our existing relationship, trusted me to write about her experiences. The piece is an example of how community reporting can unearth important stories and social issues that may not otherwise find a platform.

Article 2: “The Merseyside housing estate with a dark wartime past”

I saw Huyton’s wartime past being briefly discussed in a Facebook group so contacted a local archives team and put out a social media shout-out asking for information. The son of a former prisoner of war agreed to share his childhood memories and photographs. I also knocked on the doors of a housing estate built on the site of an internment camp. While writing this, I learnt about the camp’s last surviving POW, whose name I tracked down through social media. I posted a letter through his door, asking for an interview, which I wrote as a follow-up.

Article 3: “We took a ride on the 82 bus to find out why it’s such a part of Liverpool life”

Local people expressed concerns, on patch and social media, that changes to a primary bus route would increase isolation for residents. The affected area houses many vulnerable and elderly residents who lack other modes of transport. I wanted to explore why the route was so important to residents and what impact the changes would have, and felt the best way to do this was to take a ride myself, speaking to passengers. I carried out follow-up stories on both the buses and general connectivity problems, which gave a platform to the community perspective on these issues.

The judges said: 

Not afraid to dig deep and the result is a real insight into the effects of a bus route change and the fascinating uncovering of a wartime past.

Sure-footed, well-researched and beautifully written, these entries give a real flavour of the communities they cover. A delight to read.

Liz Perkins, South Wales Evening Post/WalesOnline

In her own words, Liz outlines the articles she submitted:

‘I discovered my husband was abusing my children and livestreaming it’ is an exclusive story, which has given other parents the courage to speak out for the first time through its exposé of the Family Court and even risk jail. It tells the harrowing ordeal of a mother whose paedophile ex-husband controlled his children’s lives from prison and stopped them from going on holiday. We had never run such a story before and it took time to gain the woman’s trust. It was the first Reach regional story to become a national campaign in the Daily Express and was featured on both Sun Online and Mirror Online after I was alerted to the case by Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi.

‘My twin is a paedophile – but it’s my life sentence’ is another exclusive story. Owen Evans had been left furious by press coverage of his twin brother’s trial as he feared his life was at risk. He sent me a cryptic email and after a series of calls he offered me a 7am interview about his case and told me how his girlfriend was being harassed as a result of legal proceedings. The story was also run by Mirror Online, Metro, Daily Star, Mail Online and The Sun, along with other regionals.

‘“Talks imminent” on the future of Ford factories’ exclusively indicated plans by the car giant to pull the plug on its operations in Bridgend although the firm repeatedly denied it. A worker told me that talks would take place in early June – that week- over the future of the plant and his tip-off formed the basis of the article. The day after the story was published Ford confirmed it was closing the site with 1,500 jobs placed at risk, which featured on every national newspaper and TV network.

The judges said:

Two strong stories that meant getting the trust of those involved, and an excellent scoop on a factory closure.

Rakeem Omar Hyatt, BirminghamLive

“My role as a Community Reporter is to tell the stories of those from underserved communities. This has meant focussing on stories of those from ethnic minority backgrounds, sharing stories that otherwise would go unheard,” writes Rakeem.

“One example includes attaining meetings at a migrant centre, sitting down with a mother who feared for her the future of her children, battered and bruised by her complex lifelong immigration battle. She had no hope. I was able to turn a complicated story into something concise. I approached the Home Office somewhat tenaciously, and to my surprise help to overturn her immigration status forcing the government to compensate for a lifetime of wrongdoing. She has since been compensated thousands by the Home Office, given a future and featured on BBC radio.

“Knife crime is a topic I have aimed to cover with tact and diplomacy by focussing on the nuanced experiences of those impacted by the pandemic within inner-city Birmingham. I have been able to explore a diverse range of stories, creating impactful and engaging visual packages such as Daniel’s story. He has carried knives, charged with multiple burglaries and sold drugs. However, he has made a change for a better future using entrepreneurship sought from a business course in prison to start his own clothing line to inspire other young people away from a life of crime. Produced, filmed and edited by myself I have created a short news package for Facebook and Instagram (IGTV), the latter of which has reached over 6,000 views – the most viewed IGTV for BirminghamLive.

“It also has over 17 thousand views on BirminghamLive’s Facebook.

“Since my story, he has seen overwhelming support online and approached by employers. I believe this is a great example of how using digital and social media in an ever-changing newsroom can help to tell stories just as effectively, this is something I have been really passionate about since beginning my role only 10 months ago.

“Lastly, my first front-page piece explored under-representation on the Organ Donation Register for ethnic minorities, telling the story of Sunaina Paul, who is dying while awaiting a new liver. It has reached over 28 thousand page views. The story was also picked up by The Mirror totaling 22,010 page views respectively.

“Overall, I believe I have worked best to humanely explore stories and experiences of ethnic minorities, whilst displaying the great impact and importance of local journalism.”

 The judges said: 

Judges said they predict bright future for Rakeem who is not afraid to tackle tough stories in even tougher communities. Daniel’s story was harrowing to read and judges found themselves googling Sunaina’s name to see if she had received a new liver. Very powerful and well researched.

Will Hayward, WalesOnline

“In Wales we are immensely lucky to have some really strong and resilient communities,” writes Will. “Unfortunately, many of these communities, particularly in the Valleys, are often some of the most deprived financially.

“In a series of long investigations I spent months in different communities around Wales. Speaking to hundreds of people, I told the stories of the communities forgotten by policy makers.

“The piece on Butetown involved speaking to 100+ people from dozens of countries and truly immersing myself in a community which is the most culturally diverse in Wales.

This is a community which feels abandoned by politicians and are not represented in the corridors of power. Their streets are blighted drugs, crime and lack of opportunity because of political decisions

No one has ever gained this level of access into this most iconic of Cardiff communities and this piece gave them a voice they feel they’ve never had.

It also looked at the broad themes affecting many areas of the country such as drugs, poverty and social deprivation. However it always looked at it through a local lens, through the eyes of the people affected.

“The piece on Penrhiwceiber took a lot of work to gain the trust of the community. For so long they have been portrayed as simply poor (if they are acknowledged at all).

I wanted to demonstrate that though half of children there grow up in poverty, these people are a success story. The children are loved and supported despite a lack of resources. As austerity ripped back public services the community stepped in to pick up the slack. These are the communities children and they truly appreciated having their hard work celebrated.

“The Maesteg story is a different kind of feature. It was a story of warmth, love and humanity. It was a warm trip around a deprived community which didn’t focus on the negatives. This story focussed on the little touches that make our Valley communities special. The response was overwhelming positive with the paper selling out in Maesteg be 10am. They really appreciated their story being told.

In a digital age, when traffic and click are paramount there is always a temptation to write about negatives. But this piece proved that positive journalism can still generate revenue.

“Within all these pieces I used video, images and infographics to tell the story in a more engaging and informative way.”

The judges said: 

While acknowledging the challenges faced by some of the communities on his patch, Hayward produces positive, meticulously researched reports that show there is still hope and considerable potential for the people living and working there.