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Community news scheme has changed how publishers recruit journalists

Posted on: November 2, 2020 by Mariella Brown

The Facebook Community News project has had a lasting impact on the recruitment processes of publishers, a report by the National Council for the Training of Journalists has found.

More than 80 reporters have been recruited under the NCTJ-administered programme which aims to support local journalism’s under-covered areas and improve the diversity of journalists in the UK. 

The report reveals that the regional newspaper groups and independent publishers involved in the scheme have embraced the opportunity to address diversity issues and attract candidates from different backgrounds.

Many of the publishers involved in the scheme have made long-term changes to the way they recruit and the way the wider business operates, including placing more emphasis on ‘traditional’ community journalism, and a wider consideration of the diversity of their newsrooms.

Data collected from reporters hired as part of the Facebook-funded project also reveals that the reporters feel they have brought something new to their newsrooms.

The findings come from a report authored by Mark Spilsbury who has been commissioned to carry out an independent evaluation of the project throughout its two-year pilot period.

This mid-term evaluation also found that the CNP reporters:

  • are producing good quality content, which is considerably different to that being produced by mainstream journalists;
  • have not been moved to new areas because their original communities continue to provide good stories;
  • are fitting in well within their newsrooms, demonstrate a low level of turnover and editors are keen to retain them;

Those studying towards their Diploma in Journalism are performing well in their exams, with a pass rate of 98 per cent and a gold standard (A-C grade) rate of 76 per cent, compared to 71 per cent for all NCTJ students and trainees.

As the initial two-year pilot approaches completion, the report also details that there is a desire from the publishers for the scheme to continue.

Click here to read the report summary.

Picture: the community news reporters met for training with Facebook, prior to Covid-19.