The People’s Newsroom is moving to a new home

After a year of experimenting and exploring the interventions needed to diversify and sustain newsrooms that build community power, we’re pleased to announce that we’re handing over The People’s Newsroom to a partner.

The People’s Newsroom is an initiative that’s been incubated at the Bureau to explore the resources needed to build, run and sustain newsrooms that diversify media ownership and authentically represent communities. For years we’ve been providing shared editorial and investigative resources that support the reimagining of journalism that is created by, with and for communities (through Bureau Local). But we knew more needed to be done to support those ill-served and underserved by the media industry to kickstart more diverse, community-led journalism entrepreneurship.

So, over the past 12 months we’ve run a pilot to support the emergence of new journalism leaders from marginalised backgrounds in order to help forge a new pipeline. It has had tremendous impact. As a result, 20 people across Wales who identify as being harmed by the media have participated in training to equip them to be emerging leaders in journalism that’s for their benefit. Articles, films, podcasts and magazines have emerged, community organisations are enabling future support for the work and crucially, participants have said they now find journalism more accessible and more useful and they’re now more confident they personally could be involved in positive change. You can read more about the impact here.

Eight organisations came together with us to make this happen and build a coalition to support each other and future work. This was so important as coalition-building has been the key to the work all along. At the end of the day, The People’s Newsroom is a vision. It’s a roadmap of the infrastructure needed to lower barriers to entry and support new kinds of newsrooms, newsroom owners and storytellers to emerge. This pipeline programme we’ve piloted is just one of three key infrastructure pillars we’ve identified that are needed, alongside shared HR/business/startup support and collective editorial resources.

PNI participants at a meet-up in Wales - Jess Perkins, Tai Camilleri, Donna Ali and Shirish Kulkarni (from left to right) Jess Perkins

Yet what we learned along the way is that we are not best placed to hold this coalition or drive this infrastructure at the Bureau. As an investigative newsroom, the Bureau’s strengths and capacity sit with editorial approaches to this work — something that will continue through the Bureau’s practice of, and innovation around, engaged journalism aimed at supporting and equipping underreported and marginalised communities in our investigations.

Rozina Breen, the Bureau’s CEO, says: “I’m so proud of what The People’s Newsroom has achieved and the lessons we’ve learned. Working alongside communities, learning from them and taking some of our investigations in a different and equitable way will be enabling and enlivening. And I am so pleased to continue our commitment to inclusion and innovation in the industry.”

Supporting the transition of Bureau projects has always been important to us. We want to ensure our work has an impact and sometimes the best way to ensure that can happen is to hand it over to those better placed to do so. We have a history of doing this with our Dying Homeless and Shadow Wars projects and similarly are now handing over the People’s Newsroom to a partner who can continue this work.

An image of post-it notes summarising findings from community journalism training How participants summarised thoughts on story framing during training from The People's Newsroom Jess Perkins

Opus Independents to hold the People’s Newsroom coalition in the future

Excitingly, we’ve found a great partner in Opus Independents, which has agreed to hold the People’s Newsroom coalition going forward. Opus shares our values – crucial for us – and has a track record of developing innovative and emerging projects, movements, networks and ideas in this space.

Opus is a “think and do tank” based in Sheffield. The team creates, supports and incubates platforms and projects “which champion social causes, independent businesses, not-for-profits, emerging talent, active citizenship and community participation”.

Opus has been working in the participatory democracy and community power space for some time now, as part of Citizen Network, through Festival of Debate and in its support of the Neighbourhood Democracy Movement and the Universal Basic Income Lab Network. Opus has also been active in independent media, both with the Independent Media Association and Inclusive Journalism Cymru, as well as hyper-locally in Sheffield with its own citizen journalism platform, Now Then.

James Lock, the managing director of Opus says: “We are excited and honoured to be included in plans for the future of the People’s Newsroom.

“We believe that understanding and acting upon the structural drivers which entangle media and democracy is critical to our shared futures. We see The People’s Newsroom as a vital framework for systemic change, working as it does to raise up community power through journalism.

“We’re keen to meet all partners and organisations who are interested and able to contribute to this work going forward. We want to collaborate and take action together.”

At the Bureau, we’re excited to see how this work continues with Opus and are grateful for and inspired by their thought leadership and partnership. This work has been so important to us and we’re indebted to all our supporters and collaborators who have helped to shape it. We hope you continue to be part of it going forward and can’t wait to see what comes next.

If you are interested in being part of this coalition or want to follow the developments of this initiative – now held with Opus – you can sign up to The People’s Newsroom newsletter, here.

Header image, of the Bureau Local newsroom. Credit: Rob Stothard