Auto mechanic-turned-journalist praises Facebook/NCTJ program

A former car mechanic who changed careers to become a journalist hailed the importance of the regional press.

George Harman shared his gratitude after entering the industry with the Somerset weekly, the Wellington Weekly News.

George, pictured, joined the Tindle Newspapers headline as part of the Community News Project, which is funded by Facebook owner Meta and administered by the National Council for Journalist Training.

The program was set up in 2018 to help regional newsrooms cover underserved communities across the country.

George, 26, said: “After leaving school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, although I was good at writing.

“I got into cars and worked as a mechanic, which – although I was in a great place with lovely people – wasn’t for me.

“I lived in Wellington for many years, so when I saw the opportunity to become a CNP journalist come up, I made sure to apply.”

George will study for the NCTJ National Journalism Qualification while serving his apprenticeship, which began in June.

He added: “Although I have no experience in journalism, I have always been interested in local news.

“I was interested in community social media, which was important given the strong connection to Meta. I also strongly believe in the importance of a local news source in the community like the Wellington Weekly News. reliable locals are more important than ever.

“I bring my real-world experience from my previous role and I feel that having been a mechanic, I can interact with a mix of people.

“Becoming a CNP reporter with Tindle made me realize that I should have done this years ago. If anyone is considering taking on one of these roles, they should.

Elsewhere, another journalist hired under the scheme has been recognized for his work.

Ayokunle Oluwalana, who works for MyLondon on the scheme, has been honored with an editorial award by his publisher Reach plc after reporting on the realities of life in a new area in Croydon.

Ayokunle, who is 6’5″, recounted her experience after visiting a Pocket Homes development, where the apartments are 38m² and around 3.5m wide.

His first-person article about the experience received 100,000 page views and it was MyLondon’s most read story that week.

Ayokunle, 27, said, “My goal as a community journalist is to be the person who shines a light on marginalized communities and gives them a voice.

“London’s minority communities have negative associations with crime and I want to show their successes and the good things they do.”

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