COMMUNITY JOURNALISM IS set to have its own nationwide industry voice – and Moray’s own ‘hyperlocal’ news site is determined to be a part of the new development.
insideMoray has been part of the Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) since shortly after the site was formed in 2013 – the same year that C4CJ itself was formed.
Based at Cardiff University, the C4CJ has supported community journalists throughout the country at a time when the concept has gained increasing importance – and with that increasing readership.
Now, following a poll among many of the 500 ‘hyperlocal’ sites around the country, C4CJ has revealed that they will set up a single independent representative body.
C4CJ say that their overreaching aim is to create more jobs for journalists at the local level – with Emma Meese, the C4CJ centre manager, commenting: “‘Independent’ is the key word here because we will have some members that cover cities or counties, but they are still one or two people in the organisation, so they wouldn’t have support from anywhere else.
“What can we do to help ensure the quality of news and information at the local level is as high as it can be? Do publishers have access to support, training, advice, resources? It’s really time for the sector to have some sort of representation, to have one voice and it feels now like the time has come to stop talking about it and start doing something.”
insideMoray’s Editor, Stuart Crowther, will fly down to Birmingham on Monday to take part in the final round of talks over the creation of the new representative body. He said: “Anyone who takes on the role of producing a hyperlocal news service learns very quickly that it is a very isolating experience.
“It is not just a case of setting up a website and writing away – it has never been that simple. You have to grow yourself a very thick skin very quickly, to take all the problems that are thrown at you and which sometimes can be quite vicious in nature.
“Always you are aware that for each story you publish there could be a backlash, the slightest mistake can lead to your being threatened with legal action.
“A single representative body has been needed for some time to give local journalists the support they need to keep their service going and grow – without fear of their being intimidated into submission purely because they feel they have nobody to turn to.”
Emma Meese concluded: “It’s a really exciting prospect for this sector to finally be able to come together and for people to really understand the valuable work it provides.
“It’s also important that we can lobby on behalf of independent community publishers, which has been difficult since it’s such a diverse sector.”