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Facebook to fund 80 local journalism jobs in new industry partnership

Facebook-icon-1Facebook is to partner with the NCTJ and leading UK regional publishers by funding 80 new community journalists for towns which have lost their local newspapers.

In a major industry initiative involving five of the biggest regional newspaper groups, the NCTJ and publishers will work together to recruit, train and qualify around 80 new journalists who will serve currently under-reported communities.

The Community News Project, which will also aim to improve diversity in UK newsrooms, will be funded by a $6m charitable donation from Facebook to the NCTJ.

The scheme is a two-year pilot project with a range of publishers, including Reach, Newsquest, JPIMedia (formerly Johnston Press) Archant and Midland News Association.   Recruitment of the new journalists is expected to begin early in 2019.

The goal of project is to encourage more reporting from areas of the UK which are currently underserved, such as towns which have lost their local newspaper and beat reporters.

It will operate in a similar way to the BBC-funded Local Democracy Partnership, with the publishers employing the new reporters although they will be funded by Facebook via the NCTJ.

David Higgerson, chief audience officer at Reach, who has led discussions about the scope of the project on behalf of the publishers, said: “This project is a fantastic way of increasing the number of stories published that would otherwise not be covered.

“The funding will help us pioneer new ways of local news gathering and distributing stories to underserved communities. It will help us increase newsroom diversity and inclusion and the publishers are pleased to be working with the NCTJ to recruit, train and qualify the community journalists.”

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ added: “The NCTJ cares deeply about the number, quality and diversity of journalists working in our local communities.

“We are very proud to support the sustainability of quality local journalism by overseeing the recruitment of additional local news journalists from diverse and inclusive backgrounds and by ensuring they are properly trained and qualified.”

The involvement of Facebook in funding the project will be seen by some as a response to the ongoing Cairncross Review of the newspaper industry, which is looking into whether the tech giants should be forced to recompense publishers for the content they use on their platforms.

Facebook said today that it is committed to doing more to support publishers.

Sian Cox-Brooker, strategic partner manager at Facebook, said: “Having started my career at my local paper, I understand how local news really helps to inform and strengthen communities.

“Together with the NCTJ and regional news publishers, we want to help encourage more reporting in underserved areas of the UK. Our hope is that, ultimately, the Community News Project helps more people access the news that matters to them most.”

The NCTJ says that it will work with the publishers to ensure that the recruits are properly trained and qualified in their community journalism roles.

Trainees without the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism will receive training to achieve the qualification, while those who have passed the diploma will work towards a new National Qualification in Journalism for community journalists.

The project also aims to help improve the diversity of newsrooms, an issue which was highlighted in the NCTJ’s recent Journalists at Work 2018 report.

Journalists will be recruited from a range of backgrounds, with the aim of helping make newsrooms more diverse and inclusive.


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  • November 19, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    “ …. a range of publishers, including Reach, Newsquest, Johnston Press, Archant and Midland News Association”
    Why are these failing groups getting funding / help with staffing levels?
    These are the ones, who,through bad and short term decision making by reducing staff numbers and cutting departments to the bone ,continue to pay huge salaries to under performing board members and middle managers.
    The ones who need help are the genuine new small independent local publishers who truly serve their local communities and exist on a shoe string, not the ones listed where the fat cats and yes men remain in charge yet through scemes such as this, are being rewarded for high level staff cutting and incompetence , it’s all wrong

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  • November 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Please make this separate of the main publishers.
    I say that as an employee of one of them who does not have a LDRS employee and have seen how it has impacted negatively on us. Despite being a small weekly which has seen staffing numbers drop, we routinely send reporters to town and parish council meetings and increasingly find LDRS reporters there.
    On paper that is good, but in reality it isn’t – they are being asked to attend hyperlocal meetings while the main publisher’s employees staff the big city council meetings because they do not wish those stories being shared across the region – it is in essence free staff for publishers to target neighbouring patches.
    If it was run entirely by the BBC (or in this case FB) and therefore a level playing field then great. In the interests of fairness it should be entirely independent and the content open to everyone from main publishers to small-time bloggers.

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  • November 19, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    A lot of local papers could do with one local reporter. many have none based in their biggest towns; an absolute disgrace and it shows.

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  • November 19, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Will their stories, like their more traditional colleagues’, be fed to distant, centralised production units overseen by “brand editors”?
    Who will provide on-the-job training?
    This smacks of a cosmetic exercise to get Facebook off the hook while delighting the very publishers largely responsible for reducing the local press to its current lamentable state.

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  • November 19, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Exactly what Employee X said. The reason local news isn’t being covered in some patches is because of the cuts made by these publishers. The areas where there is coverage is generally because hyperlocals have been set up, often operated by a tiny number of staff. Why isn’t the money going here, to these people, the ones who are already doing the job that the larger publishers decided wasn’t a fit for their digital first news rooms? First we fund them with the BBC scheme and now they get more cash from facebook. How about some cash and support for the people who really are on the ground? #fuming

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  • November 19, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Incredible. Facebook gives its money to the organisations that are failing local news and are predominantly ‘off-line’.

    A costly PR stunt that will be a waste of time as half these businesses won’t be around in a few years. Sadly.

    Why not open this funding up to young and innovative local journalists who are proving their worth in modern journalism skills on digital channels? Help them gain the qualifications needed to get a step up, rather than sending it to the accountants who care more about profit than news!

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  • November 19, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    @Seasidejourno if you’re at one of the groups mentioned yet say you’re at “a small weekly” the likely reason they’re small and selling a few thousand is because maybe they were once a large weekly selling tens of thousands until decisions were made to dumb down the papers by encouraging social media scrapings,RGC and replacing experienced staff with juniors. The result of all this is copy sales crashed and ad revenues at all time lows and falling away further.
    If so why should these groups benefit whilst small independent new publishers have to count every penny and would use the additional staff more effectively in doing what they’re supposed to be doing: to produce hyper local news from the communities they’re located in

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  • November 19, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    A step in the right direction from Facebook, but this surely must be seen as simply a toe in the water before they are forced to do more. It’s vital that smaller independent publishers get a slice of the action too. Many were left behind when local democracy reporters were appointed and all of them are missing out on this.
    The Cairncross Review must find a way of funding local journalism everywhere, not just where one of the larger groups operate. And Facebook and Google need to realise that this is the start not the end.

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  • November 19, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    It would have been nice if independently-owned local papers had been invited to participate.

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  • November 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    This is terrible news for independent and small publishers. The media giants are once again being given free staff, just the same as the LDRS scheme.

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  • November 20, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I find it incredible,yet sadly unsurprising,that the people posting comments on here,not only on this piece but other HTFP posts as well,can see the problems and identify and offer sensible and logical solutions yet those making the decisions can’t.
    The common sense spoken by most HTFP commenters, many with years of experience in the local newspaper industry,is so obvious and plain to see it makes you wonder if those in positions of power are more incompetent and clueless than we give them credit for?
    Sadly, I think I already know the answer

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  • November 20, 2018 at 10:06 am

    I think we are sort of making the same point actually Canary. Any external help for the media – whether it be BBC or Facebook – should be totally independent of any publishing groups. What those reporters produce should not be dictated by Reach, JP, Newsquest, Archant etc, who from what I see use it just to widen their catchment area and protect their core patches by sending those reporters to just cover issues on the periphery. Instead, the BBC/FB/NCTJ should take charge of what these reporters cover for the benefit of the public. That way it is fair and won’t allow big name companies to cut staff because at the moment they know they have ‘free’ reporters coming into their newsrooms who they can control and it means hyperlocal publishers who do the hard yards to cover small meetings still get their exclusives.

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  • November 20, 2018 at 10:17 am

    “The scheme is a two-year pilot project”

    And after Year 2?……………………

    Hmmmmm isn’t the Beeb’s LDRS term two years?
    And how many LDR’s turned out to be not new blood to replenish a haemorrhaging industry , but journos from the the likes of Trinity, Johnston, Newsquest et al who were moved sideways in lieu of redundancy (as has happened in three cases in the backwoods down here).

    We watch with bated breath……..

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  • November 20, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Fox breaks into hen house. kills all hens. Fox starts to feel hungry so provides farmer with eggs and ask him to raise more hens. Two decades ago we talked about what happens to curated content when all the originators/providers have gone and social media is faced with having to source their own (expensive) material…I guess we know now.

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  • November 20, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Loving the fox/hen analogy. It’s the same with any help scheme unfortunately, it always undermines the original structure. I am not sure it’s true to say this downward spiral can be stopped by improved content. People are starting to think globally in terms of news. Because of the internet the world is a smaller place.

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  • November 20, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    This proposal is complete rubbish. Up and down the country, there are hundreds of great, experienced, dependable journalists whose talents are being wasted because bean-counters have destroyed local newspapers and sent them into downward financial spirals.

    This scheme should be investing in experienced journalists and sending them out into the community to perform independent journalism. It should not be training up another 80 journalists who, two years later, are going to have nowhere to go and end up on the same scraphead as the aforementioned.

    And those 80 journalists certainly shouldn’t be gifted to the very companies who have put us into this mess to begin with.

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  • November 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Yet again the ‘big’ or should that be ‘declining’ publishers get the benefits while the hyperlocals – the ones who actually cover communities – get nothing. It’s a bit like the BBC scheme. How many people know the BBC local reporters are not expected to cover anything below district/county council level … and they don’t. No parishes/town councils etc.

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