Eighteen new journalism jobs are to be created after an expansion of Facebook’s partnership with the regional press industry.
New journalists will be recruited by regional newsrooms to cover underserved communities across the country following an increase in funding for the project, which was launched in 2018, by Facebook’s owner Meta.
The National Council for the Training of Journalists, which administers the £6m Community News Project scheme on the industry’s behalf, has also revealed 14 new partner publishers will benefit from the project – including a raft of independent and hyperlocal titles.
The cash boost, increased from an initial £4.5m investment, means up to 100 Meta-funded community reporters will be working across the country as a result.
The 14 new partners joining the project include long-established regional publishers such as DC Thomson, Iliffe Media and Tindle Newspapers alongside hyperlocals such as Brighton and Hove News, Caerphilly Media, Social Spider, Southwark Newspapers and Wokingham Today.
Tindle Newspapers will recruit four CNP reporters, who will serve the Welsh language communities around Aberystwyth, the farming communities around Newton Abbott, and locations in the Tamar Valley and Wellington, in Somerset.
DC Thomson will take on two reporters – one covering the areas of Fort William, Lochaber and Skye, and the other covering the Western Isles – while the other publishers will each recruit one.
Tindle managing director Scott Wood, pictured, said: “We know how important truly local news is, as our company has lived by that mantra for many years. Being part of, participating in and caring about the communities that we serve is at the very heart of what we do.
“This scheme enables our company to employ more journalists and increase our truly local coverage, while also sustaining our aim to ensure that small communities stay connected and remain informed.”
Frank O’Donnell, editor in chief of DC Thomson’s Aberdeen-based dailies the Press & Journal and Evening Express, said: “People want to see news that matters to them and this only happens through community reporters who really understand the issues and can talk to readers in a voice they recognise.
“That’s why we’re delighted to be involved with this project because it aligns so closely with P&J values and allows us to put more eyes and ears on the ground in specific areas that are underserved.”
Congleton Chronicle editor Jeremy Condliffe, whose newspaper will gain a reporter to cover villages in East Cheshire, said: “It was fantastic to learn that we had been selected for the project.
“This funding will help us to offer a start in the industry to a deserving young reporter, and I am excited to see who we recruit. I would like to thank the NCTJ and Meta for the funding.”
Today’s announcement follows a tender process, in which applicants were asked to demonstrate clearly how a CNP reporter would engage a currently underserved community and/or location, as well as how they could offer a suitable level of support in the newsroom and in respect of their NCTJ training.
All recruits receive NCTJ training to achieve a professional qualification, either the Diploma in Journalism or the National Qualification in Journalism depending on experience.
Sarah Brown, head of local news partnerships for Northern Europe at Meta, said: “At the heart of the CNP is a goal to surface real life stories from under-represented groups from our first ever Welsh language title in Aberystwyth to the African and South American communities in London.
“We look forward to working with the NCTJ and our publishing partners in onboarding a new cohort of trainees who will share stories and viewpoints that don’t often get told.”
Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, chaired an independent panel of judges which considered applications for 31 possible community reporter positions.
She said: “We had the challenge of making sure the funding goes where it will be effective so it had to be a rigorous tender process, which involved some tough decisions. Those who were successful put forward the best proposals for recruiting, training and qualifying people who will benefit their communities.”
Added Joanne: “This brilliant project continues to be a success story for the industry thanks to Meta’s on-going investment and the support of the publishers involved in the scheme.
“With a welcome increase in funding and 23 wide-ranging news media partners now covering 100 communities, we have an even more diverse range of publishers involved in the scheme who are as committed as we are to the sustainability of quality, trusted local news journalism.
Nine regional news publishers – Archant, Baylis Media, Barnsley Chronicle, JPIMedia, KM Group, Midland News Association, Newbury Weekly News, Newsquest and Reach plc – were initially involved in the scheme when it launched.
The 14 new publishers, and the 18 communities they will serve, are as follows:
Island of Bute
Brighton and Hove News
People with disabilities, from minority groups and seven deprived parts of Brighton and Hove
Iliffe Media (Bury Free Press)
North Caerphilly County Borough
Fort William, Lochaber and Skye
The Western Isles
Lower Annandale, Eskdale and the borders
East Cheshire villages
Higgs Group (Henley Standard)
Caversham/Emmer Green, Berkshire
Highland News and Media
North-West Highlands from Ullapool to Bettyhill
Social Spider (Haringey Community Press)
Tottenham, North London
African community in Peckham and Latin American community in Elephant and Castle, South London
Stratford News and Media
South Warwickshire areas of Henley, Alcester and surrounding villages and hamlets
Aberystwyth-based, covering the Welsh language communities
Tamar Valley, Devon and Cornwall
Newton Abbott, covering the farming community
South Reading/Wokingham border, Berkshire