Media Trust collaborates to deliver citizen journalism project

Media Trust collaborates to deliver citizen journalism project

Media Trust collaborates to deliver citizen journalism project 10

Governance | Tania Mason | 20 Dec 2011

The Media Trust will employ the services of three different consultancies to help it plan, implement and evaluate its three-year-long newsnet citizen journalism project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The Media Trust describes newsnet as “the UK’s first online network of community reporters, citizen journalists and local storytellers”. The online portal aims to provide local people with a platform to connect and tell their local stories, as well as find resources and share ideas. The ultimate aim is to support community cohesion at a local, regional and national level.

In May, sole funder of the project, the Big Lottery Fund committed £1.89m over three years for the project.

The Trust has engaged communications consultancy Forster to manage the campaign planning, branding, and to drive awareness and participation.

Community engagement specialists SiftGroups will create the website and build the interactive community.

And research and strategy consultancy BOP Consulting will monitor and report on the impact of newsnet as it progresses.

Caroline Diehl, chief executive of the Media Trust, said: “Helping communities get their voices heard is at the very heart of what Media Trust does. With the reduction of services at local media outlets across the country, providing communities with the tools and networks to tell their own stories now and in the future is an absolutely vital component in improving cohesion in local communities.

“All three of the agencies we have chosen to work with have excellent track records and we are confident that with their support, newsnet will enable hundreds of people to create nationwide discussions on the local issues that matter to them.”


Michael Collins
Community Connections
22 Dec 2011

I thoroughly endorse the comments made by Gary Copitch, PVM have been doing this work for a long time and have built a network of organisations from around the country, all of which are engaged in community journalism. Take a look at PVM or our own Community Reporter platform

As with so much about the big society - it was already happening!

Trish Aydin
Community Connections
22 Dec 2011

I have read with great interest Media Trust comments and that of others and although I wish to say congratulations to Media Trust for acquiring the funds to further develop this area of work, I also agree with others that this is not a first, it is not new or innovative as others, such as People’s Voice Media, Community Connections and other partners connected with People’s Voice Media have been doing this work for a long time. Given all said it might not be too late for Media Trust to develop a much more integrated, powerful, innovative and cost effective approach that also addresses the importance of localism, by supporting real partnership working for the benefit of the wider diverse community. This can be achieved by considering inviting other agencies already delivering this service to play a role in enabling this funding and the service to be delivered more cost effective, dynamic and exciting. I am sure People’s Voice Media, Community Connections and other partners can add real value to the way forward.

Carl Allen
21 Dec 2011

But what is the lesson learnt by Media Trust?

Clair Heaviside
Toxteth TV
21 Dec 2011

I am also shocked at this statement from Media Trust and agree with the other comments. It does not take a lot of research to be aware of the huge impact of the Peoples Voice Media Community Reporters programme that has worked nationally for three years.
It saddens me that funding isn't used more constructively to support the development of existing successful projects and partnerships.

Toxteth TV are proud social licence holders and partners of Peoples Voice Media. We were rejected for lottery funding to help us to develop this.

Gavin Sheppard
Marketing Director
Media Trust
21 Dec 2011

Media Trust’s belief that citizen journalism can go some way to filling the gap left by a diminishing local media is underpinned by research we commissioned from Goldsmiths Leverhulme Research Centre last year. Whilst we believe that our project is the first to bring together diverse resources and citizen journalism platforms and connect them with the mainstream media, we are certainly not claiming to be the first to support citizen journalism. Media Trust itself has led projects that create and distribute community content for many years.

The work that People’s Voice Media and many others have been doing in this area is testament to the need and effectiveness of citizen journalism. Our approach is to work with diverse partners, we hope including People’s Voice Media community reporters, to help them connect, share and access resources. Our role isn’t to prescribe a particular approach to community reporting, by way of a formal training programme such as that offered by People’s Voice, but to facilitate debate, innovation and inspiration. We are also adding a large-scale aggregation and distribution layer, using our Community Channel online and TV platform and our media partnerships, including with Press Association, to increase the profile of the wonderful community reporting that’s going on around the UK. We have spoken with People’s Voice Media, for example, about showcasing their content and would be very happy to consider it in the future, as we would with any other community or charity organisation. Our new UK360 programme, the second episode of which was broadcast last week, is dedicated to community stories produced locally.

Our approach is entirely focused on collaboration. The first example of this is our partnership with a number of beacons around the UK, including John Coster’s Citizen’s Eye in Leicester, rightly praised as a centre of excellence in citizen journalism. And we are delighted that John has agreed to chair our own advisory board on this subject. Adam, Alex, Sean, Jocelyn,myself and others in our team are spending a great deal of time touring the UK to identify partners and collaboration opportunities - anyone who would like to contribute, or who feels we might contribute to their work, whom we’re not already speaking with, please get in touch and have a conversation.

This partnership approach has been actively encouraged by the Big Lottery Fund, and is reflective of their approach to engagement, most recently led by some terrific work by David Wilcox and co in bringing together the People Powered Change partners. They have also been rightly keen that our partnerships extend to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and over the last few months my team and I have visited all of the countries and have agreed some great partnerships.

In context of this partnership approach, we accept that our choice of phrasing as “the first” is unfortunate. Whilst we believe our approach in its entirety to be unique, we wouldn’t pretend to be the first to support citizen journalism. Quite the opposite: if Goldsmiths hadn’t identified citizen journalism as having such potential, we may never have taken this approach.

Kevin Eccleston
Staff Community Reporter
Peoples Voice Media
21 Dec 2011

The article above is misrepresenting by claiming to be the first organisation to
have online community reporters .I have been a staff community reporter for 3 years linking with many others throughout the country ,telling our stories and creating content which we share with the world and each other .Rather than make this claim The Media Trust needs to learn the facts .I suggest they take a look at the Peoples Voice Media's website community reporter using the link below

Steve Thompson
Teesside University
21 Dec 2011

I built a network of "community reporters" across Newcastle in 1997. This was Newcastle Community News (now long defunct). In those days the technology did not readily support this as well as it does now and a certain amount of inovation was called for. This is probably just one of many long forgotten early adopter initiatives. Folks should always be cautious about claiming "firsts" as there is nothing new under the sun.

Richard MacDonald
Goldsmiths, University of London
20 Dec 2011

Media Trust's claim that newsnet is the first online community reporters network appears to overlook the work People's Voice Media (partners with a Goldsmiths' media department research team, Storycircle) have been doing in this area, including in recent years the launch of as, precisely, an online community reporting programme with national reach.

It would be good to think that Media Trust will find ways to recognise the contribution of organisations like PVM in developing and sustaining community reporting through training, support and its growing online network.

Patrick Maher
Plot Steward
Edge Lane Allotments
20 Dec 2011

I do believe that the Media trust have their facts all wrong?? To describe Newsnet as “the UK’s first online network of community reporters" Is a LIE I have been part of the Peoples Voice Media Community Reporters Team since 2008 and I do believe that Gary Copitch

Gary Copitch
Chief Executive
People's Voice Media
20 Dec 2011

People's Voice Media have been running community reporter programmes for over 3 years. We have an established training programme and a website on which the content generated by the reporters is placed - see We have trained over 1300 people and are currently offering social licences to develop a national network of community reporters. To date over 20 organisations across the UK and Europe have signed up - see It is incorrect for the Media Trust to claim that they are running the first on-line community reporter network. Why are they not working with existing providers instead of taking an independent and disjointed approach ? I am afraid to say this is just another example of an organisation who receives Lottery funding only to duplicate existing provision.


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