News publishers have begun recruiting the first of 80 reporters under Facebook’s £4.5m Community News Project, including one covering the London borough where the Grenfell Tower fire disaster struck in 2017.
The scheme, announced in November, is a global first for the social network which is funding the new roles. It has partnered with regional news groups Reach, Newsquest, JPI Media, Archant and the Midlands News Association.
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The community reporters will be trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists and will be employed in regional newsrooms to beef up coverage of areas affected by local newspaper cuts and closures.
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When the scheme was announced in November, Facebook said it would have a particular focus on recruiting reporters from diverse backgrounds, although it did not set a quota.
The new reporters will either complete an apprenticeship or will receive training towards their senior reporter qualification, depending on their level of journalism education and experience.
The roles are for a fixed two-year contract, but publishers have said they will not look to “close the door” on someone they have invested in.
Job adverts have so far been posted online by Reach and Newsquest.
They state: “Previous journalism experience or education is not essential. We want people who care about their communities, and want to make a difference in local communities.
“We’re especially keen to hear from people who believe they can help make our newsrooms more representative of the communities they serve.”
They add that the role consists of engaging with people in specific communities to “curate, collate and create content relevant to them”.
“You will take responsibility for developing relationships with new communities, focusing on a named community each quarter, generating stories which re-engage communities with your local news provider.”
Reach is recruiting for a total of 28 positions across 23 newsrooms, with two positions up for grabs at the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Wales Online and Chronicle Live in Newcastle.
One of Reach’s roles will be based at the My London website, which launched last month, to cover Kensington and Chelsea. In June 2017 a tower block fire in the borough claimed the lives of 72 people.
The decline of local media was thrown under the microscope following the tragedy as journalists failed to highlight residents’ safety concerns at the tower block which had earlier been published in an online blog.
Newsquest is recruiting reporters to work in 20 areas with two reporters in Glasgow, Newport and Bradford and one at each of the other publications:
- Evening Times, Glasgow
- South Wales Argus, Newport
- Bradford Telegraph & Argus
- Bournemouth Daily Echo
- Southern Daily Echo, Southampton
- Southern Daily Echo, Hampshire
- Brighton Argus
- Lancashire Telegraph, Blackburn
- Basildon Echo
- Swindon Advertiser
- Reading Chronicle
- The Leader, Mold
- Western Telegraph, Haverfordwest
- Cumbria News & Star, Carlisle
- Hereford Times
- Bucks Free Press, High Wycombe
- Northern Echo, Darlington
- Worcester News
- Oxford Mail
- News Shopper, Lewisham (south London)
The Reach positions are as follows:
- North Wales Live, Colwyn Bay
- Surrey Live
- Wales Online, Swansea
- Wales Online, Cardiff
- Birmingham Live
- Plymouth Live or Devon Live, Exeter
- Nottinghamshire Live, Nottingham
- Somerset Live
- My London, Kensington and Chelsea
- Stoke on Trent Live
- Cornwall Live, Truro
- Manchester Evening News
- Teesside Live, Middlesbrough
- Derbyshire Live, Derby
- Chronicle Live, Newcastle
- Bristol Post
- Cambridge News
- Lincolnshire Live
- Liverpool Echo
- Gloucestershire Live
- Hull Live
- Leicestershire Live
- Coventry Live
Picture: Reuters/Simon Dawson