The People’s Newsroom is an initiative to support the creation and sustainability of community projects that reimagine journalism.
The news and media industry are failing to authentically serve and represent our communities due, in large part, to who owns and runs newsrooms and who tells our stories.
We need an industry that belongs to and is representative of all of us. One where we tell our stories with our own voices, respond to community needs rather than the powers at large and spark positive change. We need newsrooms created by, with and for people who are being let down by the existing media landscape.
The power to build this already exists in our communities. We just need to unleash and grow the local capacity and resilience that underpins successful, self-sustaining journalism initiatives.
The People’s Newsroom initiative focuses on making this available to everyone. We’ll share infrastructure that makes it easier to design and start up new journalism projects, cheaper to run a back-office and more accessible to produce quality information.
We’re kicking off a partnership with the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team in Wales to build a new community journalism project in Swansea. This process allows us to test, shape and scale the framework ahead of launching a pilot next year.
We want to build this initiative collectively, so we’re looking to grow a community around it. We want to collaborate with those who’ve successfully set up community newsrooms, those building them as we speak and those aspiring to do so. We want to hear from organisations and funders who want to collaborate on this project and help us all succeed.
We’ll be exploring:
A new pipeline into media ownership. Hands-on startup support to design innovative journalism projects and invest in community newsroom leaders traditionally marginalised by the media.
Shared back-office support (legal, operational, production) to lower barriers to entry and share costs and technology.
Editorial resources to help support the running of equitable community newsrooms that serve the public interest*.
Are you interested in building a newsroom for your community? A local organiser or passionate individual interested in improving your area and strengthening community power? Someone already working in journalism who wants to share knowledge and support a community media startup? A member of an organisation that wants to help or share resources? We want to hear from you.
We want anyone who cares about their community and the future of public interest journalism to take partSign up to our newsletter
*What do we mean when we say we’re helping build community newsrooms and public interest journalism?
A newsroom doesn’t have to be a physical space, and it doesn’t have to make a physical product. It might take many forms – from websites to WhatsApp services, from physical newspapers to audio, video or digital engagement. They may have different ownership models – from cooperatives to charities to non-profits. What’s important is that the newsrooms, journalism and models match the specific needs of the communities they’re created by. The “community” could be geographical, demographic or identity-based.
What’s important is that the newsrooms, journalism and products match the specific needs of the communities in which they’re created. They should report from the perspective of their community rather than from the status quo or the powers at large. That, to us, is public interest journalism.
The People’s Newsroom initiative follows in the steps of many incredible public interest community newsrooms that make a real difference in the UK. Among them are those serving geographic communities, such asThe Bristol Cable and The Ferret, those that support their communities to tell stories in their own words, such as Greater Govanhill, those that provide a platform for stories by and about Black women, such as Black Ballad, media organisations centring the voices of Muslim women, such as Amaliah, and those that tell the stories of people of colour from marginalised genders, such as gal-dem. We aim to learn from and build on the power of these newsrooms and make a shared and accessible pathway for this sector to grow.
We believe everyone should have access to quality information that enables them to participate fully in community and public life and engage with the local decision making that affects them. Our dream is for the UK to have a thriving local news and information ecosystem to support this, one that is independent and diverse – in representation and ownership – and serves communities.
This new future of journalism will be created by, with and for communities. It will be designed to meet their unique needs and represent their shared values and approaches. These aims cannot be met by simply adapting traditional newsroom structures or replicating top-down journalism models. They require fresh solutions that start with lived experience, collaboration and a new and optimistic vision for journalism that builds and unlocks power in communities. Crucially, it requires a runway accessible to all so that the ownership and running of our media can be expanded and diversified.
Header image: Bureau Local director Megan Lucero and EYST Wales CEO Rocio Cifuentes at a People’s Newsroom meetup in Swansea. Credit: Shirish Kulkarni/TBIJ