Credit: Loic Leray on Unsplash

The Bureau Local and the Daily Mirror has created a collaborative project 'Is Work Working?' that will see professional journalists collaborate with citizens impacted by insecure work and help them tell their stories.

Proposals for articles about poor pay and work conditions, zero-hours contracts and the disproportionate harm caused to particular groups of workers will be reviewed by both organisations and the best stories will be published in 2021.

"Working with and for communities has always been central to the mission of Bureau Local," says community organiser Shirish Kulkarni.

"It is clear that people from marginalised communities don’t see themselves represented in the makeup of newsrooms or the stories they tell. It’s not enough for us, as journalists, to try and 'second-guess' what the important stories are because largely that will be framed by our own experience."

According to the Trades Union Congress' recent Insecure Work Report, the number of people in insecure work has risen steadily over the past decade with the growth of zero-hours contracts, an expanding gig economy and changes to the wider labour market.

One in nine workers – 3.7 million people – were in insecure work even before the pandemic. Those numbers are now set to rise significantly as the economic fallout of coronavirus forces many out of their previously stable jobs.

The impact of insecure work falls disproportionately on women, young people and those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, the press release by the Daily Mirror and the Bureau Local stated.

A series of online events and workshops will help the participants to come up with creative ways to tell their story and engage wider audiences.

"We will have to be open to a completely different understanding of the way journalism is done," says Kulkarni.

"As far as we’re concerned, that’s a good thing though. We anticipate learning as much - probably more - from our contributors, than they do from us."

Those willing to learn more about insecure work can attend The Bureau Local's Open Newsroom on 4 December 2020.

Later in the month, the Bureau, together with the Daily Mirror, will hold Story Clinics which will offer the participants an opportunity to present an idea, discuss it with the professional journalists, and come up with ideas about the investigation, the storytelling and the potential impact for change of their story.

The best proposals will finally go forward to an Ideas Lab workshop where the publishers will choose two or three stories that will go forward. It does not mean though that only a couple of people will have the chance to tell their story - there is a scope for contributors to collaborate around common themes.

True to its mission, the project will offer an equivalent to a freelancing daily fee to the participants, depending on how much they want to be involved in the editorial process.

"We need to do journalism differently if we want to reflect the reality of people’s experiences, engage them with journalism and inspire trust," concludes Kulkarni.

"This - as with everything we do - is an experiment which we hope will provide a brilliant example of how all that might be achieved."

Join us at our next digital journalism conference Newsrewired from 1 December 2020 for four days of industry expert panel discussions and workshops. Visit newsrewired.com for event agenda and tickets.

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