This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 14/03/2017
Calling all citizen journalists in Croydon
Have you ever looked at the news and wondered where they get their information from? Or questioned why there are so many ‘official’ sources of news, but they all seem to say the same thing? I do, and I worry that just a few organisations are gaining control of what is reported and how. This means not only that I’m rarely getting the full picture of any story, but also that someone else is deciding what even counts as ‘news’ on my behalf. I don’t like that, which is why I really support the growth of citizen journalism. Through citizen journalism, real people can decide for themselves what is important, and people (rather than corporations) get to tell the story.
This is one of the reasons that I’m supporting a new competition called London Voices, sponsored by The Media Society and Croydon-based London Learning Consortium. This competition gives Croydon residents and workers (over 16 years old) a chance to get their voice heard about issues that are important to them through citizen journalism.
With three amazing prizes of up to £2,000, there’s already been interest from budding journalists across Croydon. At a workshop held in the central library last month, aspiring citizen journalists with plenty to say about Croydon learned some techniques for researching and presenting stories, and found out how to enter the competition and show their work to industry experts.
Croydon is at the forefront of massive local change, and many national stories are also having an impact locally. To make sure that reporting and comment are not limited to a few mainstream sources, it is really important that more people get involved in sharing the stories that are at the heart of Croydon’s community. Journalistic stories can only be made stronger through greater involvement by the citizens that read them, and Croydon has one of the most vibrant citizen journalist communities in London.
This is why the aim of the London Voices citizen journalism competition is to support and promote emerging journalistic and media talent, and generate some fresh, new and inspirational local perspectives. Above all, this competition is about stimulating debate and challenging local people to get involved in local issues.
The competition is ideal for Croydonians with an interest in citizen journalism to talk about the things of most importance to them – whether this is through newspaper articles, radio or video journalism, blogging, photography or using other online media.
There are four themes to choose from, all of which have a special resonance with Croydon:
- Local community voices: Are developers in Croydon taking account of what the community wants and needs? What makes a community come together to support or oppose changes such as the 20mph speed limit, or the problem of homelessness? Croydon has many different community voices, and this theme allows you to consider a huge range of issues that impact on local citizens and sometimes, across the country.
- When you’re young: Croydon has one of the youngest average ages of all London boroughs, but even the older population was young once! How is growing up in Croydon today different from in the past? What is the impact on the young of challenges such as high house prices and travel costs? Or the opportunities provided by developments like Croydon Tech City? Let your voice be heard on a range of issues affecting young people in Croydon.
- My city of the future: Croydon is changing really fast, with massive capital developments, new business opportunities, a thriving foodie scene and demographic changes. What could (or should) the Croydon of the future look like?
- Social media and democracy: How do local communities and those who make decisions about Croydon use social media? Is Croydon really the Silicon Valley of the UK, and what impact does this have on local communities? Use this theme to investigate how social media is changing Croydon, and what the future may hold.
The other great thing about this competition is that all entries will be seen by experts from The Media Society and BBC, and shortlisted entrants will be invited to a wonderful awards ceremony during The Media Society’s summer drinks party in central London. No previous experience is required, as everyone registering for the competition gets access to a range of free and subsidised support and training, including a media interviewing course run by The Online Radio School worth £50.
If you’re reading this article, it must mean that you support citizen journalism too, so I’d really encourage you, your friends and your family to make sure that Croydon’s voice features loudly. Why not enter the competition right now (deadline 23rd May)? It’s free, it’s easy, and you could win up to £2,000. And you’ll be raising the profile of citizen journalists across London too.
Find out more and register for the competition here. Get more tips and training advice by following us on Twitter.