Community reporter Julian swaps academia for dream career in news

A trainee reporter has swapped academia for the newsroom to realise his ambitions of becoming a journalist through an innovative training partnership.

Julian Barnes was finishing his Masters degree in politics at the University of Cambridge when he saw the opportunity to report on rural communities for the Mid Devon Advertiser, based in Newton Abbot.

He has joined our company as part of the Community News Project (CNP), the journalism recruitment scheme funded by tech giant Meta in conjunction with the National Council for the Training of Journalists to create new community reporter roles.

He said: “I love working for the company in such a tightknit group. It is a great environment to work in, where I can learn side by side with experienced professionals.”

Julian joined our business to pursue his ambition of working as a journalist by starting as a CNP reporter for the mid-Devon region, where he has lived from the age of 10, by reporting on rural and agricultural news.

He said: “This role is a fantastic opportunity. It gives me the training and formal qualifications to begin a career in journalism, not in college but by actually learning on the job.

Rural connection

“It is difficult to find entry level jobs in editorial in Devon. To have the chance to work in journalism in the area I know and where I have connections means this opportunity had everything I could look for, all wrapped up in one.

“I love the countryside and rural life so covering it for news stories is a dream come true for me. Journalistically, it is a great place to start as our titles are known for reporting on the news that matter to local people so I am here to increase the coverage of rural matters.”

The CNP role was created to expand the reporting of agricultural stories. Julian says he uses digital channels to gather news and information from remote communities.

He said: “People living in farming communities feel a disconnect with nearby towns. I have found I can connect with them through social media and digital platforms to champion their stories and increase inclusion of their news.

“I have reported on some interesting human interest stories such as a young farmer living near Dartmoor who creates sculptures from agricultural scrap, which he auctions off to raise money for charity.

“I have also looked at how national news stories are affecting our communities, such as the concerns over bird flu among local poultry farmers, who are worried about its potential impact in our area.

“International issues such as the war in Ukraine impact local people through the increase in the price of fertiliser, which is produced on a large scale there, so we have looked at these stories too.”

Real world

Julian began his work-based journalism training with Tindle in August having applied to be part of the CNP programme and is pleased with his initial progress.

He explained: “I really enjoyed academia but it left me with so much to learn about the real world. I am used to the writing side of the job but it is fantastic to learn from people who have amazing journalistic skills, like being able to network and having an eye for a story.

“It is great to be able to work alongside people who are able to sift through information to see what people in the community will find important.”

Before joining us, Julian’s only experience of journalism was working on a university newspaper, alongside other work in shops, bars and restaurants.

Delivered in partnership with the National Council for the Training of Journalists, the CNP was launched in 2019 for Meta (formerly Facebook) to work with UK regional news publishers to support quality local journalism and improve the diversity of newsrooms. Tindle joined the scheme earlier this year.

Julian will spend 24 months mixing studying for NCTJ qualifications in journalism with work-based experience. He is one of four CNP Tindle reporters to join the company this year.

Managing Director Scott Wood said: “As our business continues to evolve to build upon our strong heritage of delivering trusted local news in the communities we serve, it is pleasing to see the impact being made by Julian and the cohort of CNP journalists.

“Having made significant progress in academia it is great to see him realise his ambitions to train as a journalist while contributing to our news output. We look forward to seeing all the CNP journalists progress in their careers as our brands engage with local audiences in more ways than ever before.”

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