Citizen Journalism & Community Media in Scotland

We hosted a roundtable discussion on citizen journalism and community media in Scotland at our office in Glasgow today.

Projects and organisations involved in this type of activity all across Scotland provide an opportunity for groups and individuals to develop their own stories about the challenges they face, and how to overcome them.  We believe that citizen journalism may be able to encourage effective grassroots community development in addition to encouraging public involvement and engagement in community issues, which are all important themes for BIG in Scotland.

It’s in this context that we hosted this session. We had three objectives in mind:

To provide an opportunity for current practitioners, organisations and projects to network with each other and share best practice in an informal setting

  1. To raise the profile of our current investment in this area through the Media Trust’s Newsnet Project
  2. To allow Big in Scotland to develop a greater understanding of this emerging area of community development.

Big has already funded Media Trust as part of a UK-wide project to support citizen journalism. We’ve also previously funded a range of projects in this area to deliver a range of outcomes, not only through our small grants programmes like Awards for All but also with strategic funding designed to support specific groups in your communities. More recently we’ve been able to informally support projects like Citizen Relay by linking them up with our base of grantholders.

BIG already has a variety of different programmes currently open to applications which may be able to support projects working in this area.

At the end of the session, we agreed that there were two main questions that we need to have a further discussion around:

1.    How can everyone involved in citizen journalism/community media support  its further development

 2.  How could we replicate the good practice which is already present in Scotland and beyond

We’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below


  1. Thanks for organising a valuable roundtable session on community media, good to see a healthy diversity of approaches emerging in Scotland. In terms of supporting further development, suggest a mix of approaches – some discussion platforms, like Newsnet, future meet-ups on particular topics (e.g. engaging disadvantaged groups), how about a newsletter / mini-briefing featuring some current examples underway?

    Successful replication of good practice will need a thorough look at the kind of development work that is needed behind the scenes to provide the external outputs our projects deliver – maybe a small project to go out and gather insights from the field, especially from some of the smaller ones that may struggle to evaluate, write up and disseminate their learning without help.

    Trevor Lakey, GGCNHS

  2. Firstly, it was a really interesting roundtable discussion with excellent contributions from a diverse group of people across the community media/citizen journalism sector. From my perspective, holding the meeting in the first place represents the first step long the way to supporting the community media sectors’ development. However, that’s not enough. As we heard from a number of existing projects, there exist real sustainability challenges wich do require ‘resource’ of some sort – not necessarily just financial support but that is one element that would enable those doing good work some additional time to build up their business model. I also think its necessarily to make a stronger case for how community media can serve a wider purpose in respect of community engagement, community development and, even, in educational settings. The opportunity to consult on the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill should be grasped and evidence provided for the success of community media where possible. Pragmatically, I also think there is a need for a shared space in Scotland where all of us can go to see cases of good practice, learn from others and perhaps even undertake a course of learning in the principles and practices of community media.

    On question 2, to ensure good practice can be replicated I think we need to draw out the features of success – whether that be people, places, business model, method of engagement. From the point of view of our #citizenrelay project we believe there are plenty of exemplars there which could help others as well as produce a bigger and better project for 2014. We want to use the hook of an event that attracts the attention of large audiences to highlight the great potential of citizens as media makers. The question we need to answer is ‘who should fund/support such an initiative?’. In one respect the answer lies in the people around the table on Friday. We need to work together to ensure a wider public participate in reporting an event like the Commonwealth Games and will be in touch with my of you soon to see how we can make that happen.

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