The first of 80 community reporters, paid for by Facebook, to be hired in the UK has started work at Newsquest’s Worcester office, covering news from rural communities in Worcestershire.
Steven Collins, 39, (pictured top, right) has Asperger’s Syndrome took up the role while studying for the National Council for the Training of Journalist’s Diploma via distance learning.
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Collins, a former care worker for people with mental and physical disabilities, said: “I cried when I was offered the job because it was my life’s ambition to become a journalist and I never thought it would happen. It was a very emotional moment for me.
“I’m really looking forward to giving a voice to people in rural communities who perhaps feel their views and issues aren’t always heard.”
In November, Facebook donated £4.5m to fund the new community journalists, who will be trained up by the NCTJ and sent into local and regional newsrooms in a global first for the social media giant.
Newsquest Worcester’s editor, Michael Purton (pictured top, left), said: “I’m really proud that we’re the first to appoint a Facebook-funded community reporter and I’m even prouder that we’ve taken on Steven as it’s fantastic to help someone realise a lifelong ambition that they thought would never come true.
“During the recruitment process, I was blown away by Steven’s passion for local journalism and his determination to become a reporter. He’s going to be a huge asset to our newsroom.
“We all know how important Facebook is for helping local newspapers connect with their community, so for Facebook to fund these roles is fantastic for our industry.”