Community reporter Mario on ladder for career in news

Mario Laghos

A trainee reporter is realising his ambitions to work in the news industry, thanks to an innovative partnership.

Mario Laghos has had his sideways look at local life recognised by national journalists having realised his ambitions of training to be a journalist by reporting on rural communities for the Wellington Weekly News and West Somerset Free Press.

He joined our company in January 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.

In an article entitled “My Waitrose Greek style salad scandal and why I was thrown out of the store café”, community news reporter Mario told readers of the Wellington Weekly News about his run-in at the town’s Waitrose after he went to eat a salad bought in-store.

Having initially been told by an employee he could consume a salad from the supermarket shelves in the café after the eatery ran low on supplies, Mario found himself reprimanded by another member of staff. A number of national journalists honed in on the story including Lucy Tobin of the Sunday Times who Tweeted “local journalism of the day”.

It is a long way from Mario’s previous roles, which had included a spell working as a labourer before he turned his hand to writing articles for political websites and magazines.

Varied role

He said: “I want to see how news is produced so this role has allowed me to plug myself into local life and speak to a range of people every day.

“I speak to a variety of people, whether that is DEFRA or people from the local councils. This role has allowed me to find out what is important to local people, whether that is community events or something with national relevance that impacts the community here.”

The CNP role was created to expand the reporting of rural stories. Mario says he uses digital channels to gather news and information from remote communities, while developing his own skills to publish online content.

He said: “When there were floods in January I was capturing videos of the impact as well as photos to send them back to the office for publication online, followed later by ice and snow.

“I also go out and meet local people, as our titles are rooted in the community, so that includes Rotary clubs and charities, as well as notable local people like a senior national sports journalist who has retired to Dunster.

“This job is about connections and who you meet. I saw the job opportunity come up online and applied. I wanted to shape a career in this area as it is a great part of the world.

Great reputation

“Being able to start out in a role like this, which I hope can set me up for a career in news, is quite rare so I was pleased Tindle brought me on board.”

Mario, 27, has been impressed with the working environment. He says: “Tindle’s news brands have a great reputation with a deep connection in this area. People are keen to be featured in our news as there is a respect for our titles.”

Mario likes the opportunity to write for newer platforms. He says: “Tindle is pushing its digital side so I enjoy playing my part by keeping the websites up to date with our news and helping to grow digital engagement.

“We want to encourage new audiences to engage with our content so we ensure we populate our websites consistently. We are also planning more activity on social media, particularly around breaking news backed with video, as readers want multimedia news for their area.”

Mario appreciates the support of the Tindle editorial team. He said: “It is great to work with experienced people to improve my own work. I want to learn and develop to fully understand what it means to be a journalist so I feel this is the place to do it.”

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.

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