Evening News benefits from community news project funded by Facebook

The Evening News has welcomed two new reporters into the newsroom as part of the innovative Community News Project funded by Facebook.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 3:57 pm
Evening News reporters, Jacob Farr and Shona Elliott. Pic: Greg Macvean

The Community News Project is a partnership between the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), regional news publishers, including the owners of the Evening News, JPIMedia, and Facebook.

The scheme aims to appoint 82 young journalists across the UK to connect with underrepresented communities whose interests often go underreported. It will also help to bridge age gaps in many newsrooms while providing professional training with the NCTJ and local publishers.

Recognising that its platform is now one of the major ways that people access news, Facebook – which is providing a £4.5 million fund for the scheme – said it wanted to do more to support local publishers.

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In Edinburgh, Shona Elliott, 23, originally from Clachan Seil, will focus on stories regarding inequalities and disabled people.

“I have always thought it was important to speak up about inequalities,” she said “growing up as a young carer I saw first hand the unfair way disabled people were often treated by society.

“Being a Community Reporter means I can highlight stories from, in my opinion, the most under-represented margin of the community.”

Jacob Farr, 26, will cover stories from North Edinburgh and Leith, and is a Capital native who grew up around the Clermiston and Wester Hailes areas.

“The best part of the job so far has been meeting inspiring, working class people,” he said, “There are so many groups and organisations in Edinburgh who feel left out who are taking ownership of their areas and have pride in their community.”

After studying Classics at the University of Kent, Jacob worked in a number of jobs while volunteering to write and edit articles for historical and political websites.

He added: “The media can be accused of sensationalising underprivileged areas and I want to show more positive stories. While I may not have the polished skills of my colleagues yet, I feel I can relate with the communities more.”

When the project was launched Sian Cox-Brooker, Strategic Partner Manager at Facebook, said: “We’re excited to help more local news reach more people through the Community News Project. We hope it can play a small part in boosting community engagement in towns, cities and counties across the UK, and open up new opportunities for the next generation of journalistic talent.”

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said: “We are very proud to support the sustainability of quality local journalism by overseeing the recruitment of local journalists from diverse and inclusive backgrounds and by ensuring they are properly trained.”

Evening News Editor Euan McGrory said: “Shona and Jacob will be champions for their communities and allow the Evening News to do more to represent their interests than we would be able to on our own.”