Course gives confidence to write about the community

Andy CertificatesI’ve felt very lucky to have been able to participate in the Community Correspondents course at Middleton Tenants Hall. Beginning a new post as a trainee community organiser hosted from that building, meant the course location was very convenient to commit to. I’d been pleasantly surprised that course tutor John Baron was also based here, whose reputation and calibre I was already aware of from his stint at Guardian Leeds.

Even before starting my post I’d  felt there were a host of local stories, events and opinions swirling around my head that needed a focus to be written down for sharing.

The small, close-knit flexible nature of the sessions encouraged informal but effective shared learning, Co-tutor Jeremy offered very useful, inspiring tips of his experience as an advanced learner reporting and writing for South Leeds. I felt the “how to write” session really helped provide a structure to begin building up the components of a good story, even if we joked that the “inverted pyramid writing technique” must have been inspired by the Egyptian Revolution!

My previous experience of very general writing expanded to include an appreciation of the importance of embedding photographs to make a good story, with a visit to Middleton Park offering plenty of inspiring opportunities, including on how to interview people. I felt proud and excited to see my tentative first posts appearing on the South Leeds Life site. And following the session on Social Media I became more than adept at marketing my story! I enjoyed learning of the growing digital hyperlocal blogging culture and of how the South Leeds Life magazine and website interrelate over news. In particular, hearing of using search engines features to draw in readers was revelatory. Horses for courses became bywords too for the differences of writing for online compared to print.

Above all I began to feel encouraged to think, given the calibre of the training, that my potential news contributions were as valuable as professional journalists and such skills could be learned by very many more to empower local communities.

This article was written by Andy Brown