More than 4,400 people have applied for the Facebook-funded community news reporters scheme, the social media giant has revealed.
The candidates have been vying for just 83 positions in regional newsrooms paid for by Facebook as part of its £4.5m partnership project with the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
That works out at 53 people fighting for every community reporter role.
Facebook invited the first group of 33 community news reporters to its London offices for a two-day training session (pictured) covering digital news gathering and content creation in June.
It was revealed that Facebook would fund the project in November last year, with the US tech firm promising to pay the salaries, expenses and training costs for new journalists.
NCTJ head of partnerships Will Gore, who left his role as Independent executive editor to head up the Facebook project earlier this year, said its recent bootcamp had “inspired” him.
“It was quickly clear to me that the publishers involved in the project have successfully recruited a remarkably talented and energised group – and have attracted a diverse intake,” he said.
“The reporters’ obvious desire to cover underserved communities was great to see.
“By combining on-the-job learning with NCTJ training (in addition to the knowledge shared by Facebook’s experts), the scheme will ensure the reporters gain the skills and qualifications they need to progress their careers – and serve the needs of local audiences to boot.”
He told Press Gazette that recruitment for the project was not finished but was around “90 per cent there”.
Gore also revealed that two reporters left the scheme shortly after starting but has since been replaced. He added that retention on the scheme had been “remarkably good”.
The first Facebook community reporter was hired by Newsquest in March and started work at the publisher’s Worcester office.
Reach, the publisher of the Mirror and a host of regional titles, appointed its first community news reporters two months later.
The breakdown of community reporters being assigned to publishers is as follows:
Reach – 29 reporters
Newsquest – 23 reporters
JPI Media – 19 reporters
Archant – four reporters
Midlands News Association – three reporters
Kent Messenger Group – two reporters
The Barnsley Chronicle, Newbury Weekly News and Maidenhead Advertiser will all be getting one community reporter each as the situation stands.