From January 2019, Facebook will be facilitating the recruitment of paid trainee journalists as part of its Community News Project.
The social network has pledged £4.5 million for the project as a donation to National Council for the Training of Journalist (NCTJ). The scheme will fund 80 new UK journalists over two-year period. Recruits will be trained up by the NCTJ before joining local and regional newsrooms across the country. Contracts for the new recruits will be held across a partnership of regional publishers including Reach, Newsquest, Archant, JPI Media, and Midlands New Association.
A focus of the project will be to fund trainees from different backgrounds, reflecting diversity across local communities. Another major focus will be to place recruits in areas affected by local newspaper cuts. NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: ‘The goal here is to encourage more reporting from towns and villages who may have lost their local paper or beat reporters to ensure these communities benefit from high-quality journalism.’
Roles will be added in addition to current reporters, not as a replacement. And although the scheme does not guarantee a job at the end, trainees will expand their skills and provide valuable input across busy regional and local press outlets.
Archant content director Laura Adams said the initiative, ‘aligns with our core objective, which is to engage with our communities, be reflective of them and have our reporters on the ground to be able to do that job effectively’.
This is the first time that Facebook has put money into local journalism in the UK, and the scheme will sit alongside the BBC’s Local News Partnership, which has provided some 140 local democracy reporters to newsrooms across the UK.
New community journalists joining newsrooms is a great benefit to PRs. These trainee journalists are going to be open to speaking to PRs, hearing about the latest news stories in their area, looking for leads and ready to build new relationships.
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