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How community news really brings communities together

Posted on: October 8, 2020 by Mariella Brown

A journalist for the Community News Project has revealed how one of her stories has brought together two long-lost cousins from across the world.

Rema Mukena from Bristol Live (pictured above) said that her role as community reporter enabled her to pitch ideas to editors that could tell untold stories and tap into new audiences. 

Writing for the NCTJ on Journalism Matters week, Mukena told readers how her series exploring sickle cell disorder – which predominately affects ethnic minorities – led to a Ugandan relative of one of her subjects reaching out to the journalist to be reunited with his long-lost cousin.

“The story clearly had an impact on people, not only within Bristol, but beyond,” Mukena wrote.

“This became evident to me when in August, one of the case studies’ long-lost cousins from Uganda got in touch with me via Twitter DMs and said he spotted one of my stories on the case study, Juliet Iswan and wanted help “bridging the gap”.

“They hadn’t spoken for the last 15 years and Juliet said she last saw him when she left Uganda and moved to the UK. He was aged three.

“Now they’re in touch and that was a result of me writing a story on someone who may not have previously been given the chance.”

Mukena’s work emerged as part of her role as a Community News Project reporter; a partnership between Facebook, local news publishers and the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) which has seen more than 80 reporters recruited from diverse backgrounds and deployed into roles around the country.

To celebrate Journalism Matters week, the NCTJ has heard from Community News Project reporters around the country including the Sheffield Star’s Errol Edwards who wrote about his journey to becoming a community reporter and the Telegraph & Argus’ Natasha Meet who developed a feature on a street in Bradford where the neighbours are like family.

Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, said: “The Community News Project has always been about people: about audiences that had previously been under-served, and about the reporters enlisted to engage with local communities.

“For Journalism Matters week, we wanted to highlight the stories that CNP reporters have worked on which mattered most to them and to their readers. And we wanted to hear it from the reporters themselves.

“The pieces that have resulted offer a fantastic insight into the working lives of local news journalists, and act as a testament to the ongoing success of the Community News Project itself. Above all, they show how good journalism makes a difference.”

Follow #JournalismMatters week on Twitter to celebrate the vital role that trusted news media plays in our society.

Picture credit: Joe Johnston (via NCTJ)