The Knowsley borough, in Merseyside, is one of the areas to get a dedicated community reporter as a result of the Facebook-funded community news project, which is being run by local news publishers and the NCTJ. Reporter Jess Molyneux took up the post last month is already making an impact…
I started my new role as a community reporter covering the Knowsley patch on June 17 and have had some really positive feedback so far from interviewees and readers which has helped give me a good indication on how I should go about things going forward.
Before I began the job I had a few ideas noted down, people to contact or stories to share that I had heard of through growing up in Huyton or knowing people in and around the borough.
Ideas included a feature on Joe the market trader, who I have known since I was little, as well as historical stories I’d been told by family members or just pieces I was genuinely interested in e.g. Prescot businesses.
In my first month in the role I have found residents in Knowsley to be really open and positive about the position.
I’ve posted a lot on social media about the role and how I am from the area myself and I think that has been really beneficial.
I’ve used social media as a springboard to get the word out about the role, building an ‘online’ community and using people’s views and memories to see what demand is or how popular an idea is.
For example, I asked if anybody knew about the internment camps in Huyton which gave me leads as to which roads housed prisoners, how common it was to have symbols inside local households and even encouraged relatives of former internees to contact me.
I set up a new community Facebook page to share my stories and engage with people and that has proved to be a great tool in explaining to residents what the role is too.
From comments and feedback so far, I think going out to speak to people directly and publicising the thoughts and opinions of local residents has been key in reaching and engaging more Knowsley readers. I think readers appreciate me going out speaking to them and listening to their views, as well as how they are being represented more positively through historic or relatable stories. I’m really looking forward to building on this positive start and making more contacts directly in the community.