The first community news reporters on a Facebook-funded scheme have started training for their diplomas with the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
Newsquest and JPI Media recruits on the Community News Project were inducted at Darlington College yesterday.
Sam Eason, curriculum manager at Darlington College, said: “The journalism team is delighted to welcome community reporters from Newsquest and JPI Media this week to Darlington College for NCTJ training.
“It is exciting to be involved in the Community News Project, which will see journalists developing quality content and gaining industry accredited qualifications.”
Facebook launched the project earlier this year, providing £4.5m in funding for 83 regional newsroom positions.
It hosted initial digital newsgathering and content creation training days for the first group of 33 reporters in June.
NCTJ head of partnerships and projects Will Gore said the start of training was a “major milestone” for the project.
He added: “We are delighted to be working with a range of training partners in the delivery of bespoke diploma programmes, which – when completed – will stand the CNP recruits in good stead for their future careers.”
In total nine regional publishers are taking part in the project in partnership with the US social media giant and the NCTJ.
Those not inducted at Darlington College this week will begin work on their diplomas later this month, studying at Bauer Media, Bournemouth University, Glasgow Caledonian University or Sheffield College.
Bournemouth University journalism lecturer Miriam Phillips said: “The journalism team at Bournemouth University is delighted to be working with the NCTJ to help deliver the pioneering Facebook Community News Project.
“Community reporting is not only at the heart of good journalism, whether locally or on a national title; it is also at the heart of our democracy and has never been so vitally important.”
Community news reporters already holding an NCTJ diploma will instead be working towards the more senior National Qualification in Journalism.
The first Facebook community reporter was hired by Newsquest in March at its Worcester office, while Mirror publisher Reach announced it had its first recruits on board two months later.
It was revealed last month that more than 4,000 people had applied to the 83 roles on offer through the Community News Project, working out at 53 applicants fighting for each position.