Trinity Mirror and the Media Trust have partnered up on a project to offer journalism training to 16-24 year olds and a space to tell their stories.
Two pieces written by the new 'community journalists' were published on Wales Online this month, and the aim of the project is to get more stories by the young reporters published in Trinity Mirror titles.
"We need more diversity, we need more voices in our newsrooms," said digital innovation editor for Trinity Mirror Regionals, Alison Gow, "and people who potentially haven't come the traditional route or don't have the money to put themselves through a journalism degree but who are brilliant at telling stories or getting people to talk to them.
"We miss out on a talent bank because of that," she added.
The 60 young reporters are offered training from the Media Trust and mentoring from Trinity Mirror journalists through the project, to equip them with the skills needed to tell their stories in whichever formats they choose.These are young people who [may] have no experience of work, they may have finished school at 16. But they do know that they have storiesAlison Gow, Trinity Mirror Regionals
The training includes news writing, story structure, writing to deadlines, video and photography, as well as critical thinking.
A WordPress blog has been set up where the work is initially published, and where the young journalists get feedback from their mentors.
"The idea is that they'll represent the full spectrum of the diversity from the area, particularly the communities that feel under-represented. So that may be race, it may be religion, it may be age," Gow told Journalism.co.uk.
"These are young people who [may] have no experience of work, they may have finished school at 16. But they do know that they have stories, so it is a project that gives them a space and support and protection [to tell them]."
One of the stories published so far is written by 17-year-old student Isabelle Harris and looks at the portrayal of women in the media and the impact it might have on the career choices young women make today.
The second story, by community reporter Inke Tola, highlights the impact austerity measures in Cardiff have on homelessness.
Gow contrasted the project with many work experience schemes and internships in the industry, where an intern may aim to get as many stories for their portfolio as possible.
Instead, the project is a way for the 60 young reporters – whose expenses are paid-for – to learn from the experience, Gow said, "without having to potentially spend a fortnight being given the press release tray in the newsroom and being told 'there you go, work your way through that', which used to be the intern experience quite often".
While the project is set to run until June, Gow hopes to continue the conversation opened with the young reporters past the end date.
"They will have friends in the newsroom by the time they've finished, they will be a part of the story of whatever title they're working for," she said.
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