By a Newsnet Reporter
An innovative community media project, which has the backing of the National Union of Journalists in Scotland (NUJ), is being rolled out in Glasgow today.
Money from the Bank of Scotland Community Fund will be used to develop a volunteer led community media course with people of various age groups and backgrounds at Whiteinch Community Centre.
The project is being developed and delivered by two industry trained NUJ Scotland members who will offer training in media and journalism skills and techniques. Newsnet Scotland's features editor, Lynn Malone, and BBC Radio Scotland's Emma Clifford, will work with those in the area to create a community newsletter.
NUJ Scotland has offered training and access to a Modern Apprentice (MA) scheme for volunteers that get involved in the project.
Paul Holleran (pictured back right), NUJ Scottish organiser said: "We would see work being done in community media, like in Whiteinch, as a stepping stone for local people into the journalism MA. Part of our strategy is working with the schools and colleges. And we're delighted that Skills Development Scotland and Creative Skillset are on board with our projects.
"We believe the injection of professional trainers who are NUJ members will bring an essential quality to literacy and standards required for working at any level of media.
"It's about giving people a chance to develop more skills and make themselves employable. It's not just young people that can have access to these MAs; it can be people seeking new skills or additional skills."
NUJ Scotland is driving a number of initiatives which will have far reaching benefits for the media industry.
They include the establishment of a new MA in Digital Journalism and a partnership development with education authorities across Scotland covering literacy and media training. They have established new partnership projects with community media projects across Scotland to expand local services and raise standards.
These three areas have been targeted as part of an NUJ strategy to inject a new practical approach to journalism training and aid the creation of new jobs and a better media.
Through the MA project, new posts will be created in most Scottish media companies and vacancies will be filled with MAs trained to SQA standard.
There has been an explosion of social media web sites and a growth in community multi- media projects. Areas where there are current projects include Whiteinch in Glasgow, Barra, Rothesay, Helensburgh and Oban.
Mr Holleran added: "The multi-media approach of web site, newsletter and radio/TV station can offer improved local democracy, training initiatives and employment opportunities in these communities."
Bill Kidd SNP MSP, for Anniesland in Glasgow is also backing the project.
He said: "I know that the prototype's for this exciting community based project have worked in other parts of the country and see no reason why this practical initiative cannot be successful in Whiteinch, and give people the skills and knowledge to be able to look to both; serve their community by helping to run a local multi-function, digital media centre, while hopefully acquiring skills that will qualify them to apply to participate in the MA scheme and move through to real jobs, in the future."
The MSP added that educational authorities, centre staff and the NUJ, are to be congratulated in moving the project into the central belt and said he looks forward to being interviewed by the newest members of the journalistic industry for "some of their monthly copy."
Whiteinch Centre Business Development Manager, Julita Hanlon, expressed her gratitude to the people who voted for the Centre to obtain funding for the project and to Bank of Scotland Branch Manager, Fiona Hunt, who nominated them.
She said: "We are delighted with the support that we received from our community and the interests that the project sparked amongst local people. We hope that the newsletter produced as part of the project will offer an exciting opportunity to raise issues that affect the area and its residents."
First Minister Alex Salmond announced earlier this week that an extra £25,000 to support training for Scottish journalists would be available.
Skills Development Scotland is investing the money alongside investment from the industry, to deliver a new Digital Journalism route to the Creative Media Modern Apprenticeship framework.
By 2014-15 the Scottish industry hopes to recruit and employ between 30 and 50 Creative Media modern apprentices across many media groups.