The first cohort of Facebook-funded community reporters has begun studying for a new senior journalism qualification run by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
A group of 22 journalists from across regional publishers Newsquest, Reach and JPI Media are working towards a National Qualification in Journalism which has been tailored for their roles.
The social network has donated £4.5m to the NCTJ, which manages the funds and oversees training for the 83 community reporters who are employed across nine regional news publishers in the UK.
A separate group began their entry-level training in September.
Journalists typically take the NQJ exams after at least 18 months working in the profession and having already completed an entry-level diploma in journalism, which is also run by the NCTJ.
The NQJ for community journalists includes a log-book module that asks them to demonstrate an understanding of their community “and what makes it ‘tick'” as well as identifying “key ‘movers and shakers'”.
It also asks them to show “how they work has made a difference to the community they serve”.
Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, said: “From the outset it was important that the Community News Project should be flexible enough to accommodate both completely raw recruits and those who had already completed the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism.
“The development of a new NQJ for community reporters meant publishers could choose the best candidates for each of the available roles and be assured that appropriate training pathways were available for all.”
Gore said completing the NQJ, which he described as a “key marker of a reporter’s development into the more senior ranks”, would “enable them to take their careers to the next level”.
The group is receiving training from Darlington College, as well as associated editor for the Bournemouth Daily Echo Andy Martin and Midland News Association editorial trainer Crispin Clark.
It is made up of journalists from Newsquest, Reach and JPI Media.
Jess Molyneux, Knowsley community reporter for the Liverpool Echo said: “It was great spending time with the other reporters and sharing tips on how we can reach and represent our communities at a higher level…
“It’s great to have this opportunity and be able to acquire skills and training not only from our individual newsrooms, but from Facebook and the NCTJ.”
Rosie Boon, community reporter for the Peterborough Telegraph, added: “I had a great two days with my fellow community journalists.
“It was so lovely to see what everyone is up to, bounce ideas off each other and give advice. I’m ready and raring to get the NQJ.”