More than 80 journalists have been taken on as a result of the Community News Project, which was set up to help regional newsrooms cover under-represented communities better.
Those taken on under the scheme will study towards the NCTJ diploma in journalism, and an initial batch of reporters, who work in JPIMedia and Newsquest newsrooms, began their training at Darlington College.
Four attended an induction day at Darlington on Thursday, with a further five set to begin at the centre shortly.
Sam Eason, curriculum manager at Darlington College, said: “The journalism team is delighted to welcome community reporters from Newsquest and JPIMedia this week to Darlington College for NCTJ training.
“It is exciting to be involved in the Community News Project, which will see journalists developing quality content and gaining industry accredited qualifications.”
Miriam Phillips, journalism lecturer at Bournemouth University, said: “The journalism team at Bournemouth University is delighted to be working with the NCTJ to help deliver the pioneering Facebook Community News Project. Community reporting is not only at the heart of good journalism, whether locally or on a national title; it is also at the heart of our democracy and has never been so vitally important.
“BU has an international reputation as a centre of journalistic and teaching excellence and we look forward to collaborating with UK publishers to help train the first cohort of community reporters.
“The professional skills taught for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism are essential for any journalist and the gold standard diploma continues to be a prized benchmark of journalistic excellence in the industry.”
Community News Project reporters who have already passed the diploma will work towards the National Qualification in Journalism for community journalists.
All CNP recruits also have the opportunity as part of the scheme to attend a skills bootcamp organised by Facebook, and to take part in monthly online seminars arranged directly by the NCTJ.
Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, said: “This is a major milestone for the Community News Project, with its emphasis on quality journalism. We are delighted to be working with a range of training partners in the delivery of bespoke diploma programmes, which – when completed – will stand the CNP recruits in good stead for their future careers.
“The CNP’s innovative approach, combining on-the-job learning with formal industry-standard qualifications, is a clear demonstration of how the local news media industry, with the help of partners such as Facebook, remains focussed on high standards. That ultimately is the key to lasting audience engagement.”
Sian Cox-Brooker, strategic partner manager at Facebook, added: “The NCTJ is the gold standard for journalism training in the UK which is why we partnered with them on the Community News Project to ensure the reporters receive the best possible preparation for their journalism careers.”