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Weekly turns focus to patch’s black community with special edition

A weekly newspaper has run a special edition looking at the issues affecting its patch’s black community.

Reading Today has documented the experiences of prominent black people on its patch following the end of Black History Month in October.

An estimated 6.7pc of Reading’s population is black and the independent weekly covered the start of Black History Month on its front page, but the event’s conclusion prompted reporter Ji-Min Lee to pitch an idea for an investigation looking at what happens when “all the fuss has died down”.

The ensuing investigation resulted in interviews with Reading’s first female West Indian pastor to a domestic abuse survivor who’s helping young people access help, among others, as well as looking at the experiences of Reading Football Club manager Paul Ince and player Tyrese Fornah.

Reading black

Reading Today splashed last week on the finished story by Ji-Min, who works for the paper under the Community News Project funded by Facebook owner Meta.

Editor Phil Creighton told HTFP: “One of my mantras is wear out your shoe leather, not your phone battery. As part of this, every week, our Meta-funded reporter Ji-Min Lee spends a day in the communities he serves, meeting people right where they are – in community centres, churches, in the street and coffee shops.

“It’s been a terrific way to tease out some great people-centric stories that would otherwise not have been told.

“As a result of these conversations, he came up with the idea of looking at what happens after Black History Month. When all the fuss has died down, what happens next? So he asked people to share their stories.

“It’s a powerful piece and shows that, while Reading is a great place to live, there is more to be done to ensure everyone is treated equally.”

Added Phil: “We switched to poster front pages in the summer, allowing us to showcase big ideas in a way that a standard newspaper front page prevents us from doing.

“We had long conversations about how best to treat Ji-Min’s report sensitively and with the respect it deserves.

“Our graphic designer, Charlie Simpson, came up with this design, which has great impact on the newsstands, while the headline came from the stories Ji-Min reported on.

“While I’d love to take the credit, this was a team effort and one that will resonate far beyond one week on the newsstands. It’s a great example of how the Meta community reporter scheme can make a difference in a 21st century newsroom.”