Ask the Media Trust about Newsnet

My previous post about the Media Trust’s Newsnet raised some issue about the extent to which they are willing to partner with other organisations in the field.
It brought some comments, including one from Gavin Sheppard at the Trust, copied below, who also offered an interview.

I wondered how we could do one before Christmas, since I’ve just left London for the hols. Could the Trust shoot some video, if I and others came up with the questions? No problem, said the in-house filmmaker Adam Perry … usually in Leeds, but currently in London.

So here’s some starters, mainly gathered from conversations with others … and reflecting their concerns. Do add your own as a comment or tweeted @media_trust

* The Trust is very good at partnering with major media interests and sponsors – could that now extend to other community reporter organisations and networks?
* You are offering to partner with local reporting sites – but does that mainly mean promoting their content?
* Local sites are struggling to survive. Are there any deals you can broker that will help with sustainability?
* Would you join in a workshop to develop some joint approaches?

Gavin writes:

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.

Gavin Sheppard
Marketing director, Media Trust and Community Channel

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