The hours might be challenging and the pay might not make you a millionaire, but the rewards of community journalism are priceless.
Nick Crockford, who is the Moreton Divisional Editor at Quest Newspapers, has worked in the newspaper business in the United Kingdom and now works for the local newspapers in North Lakes, Brisbane.
He said that his heart is at a community level and the local newspaper should operate from the angle of the reader.
He said the local newspaper should champion people and stand up for them and make a difference at the local level to help people achieve their dreams.
“You’re at grassroots level. You’re accountable to your community. You’re accountable for everything you put in the paper. You have to become involved with the community. The community sees you as a figure head. There are expectations that you tell people about what’s going on but also that you champion people in the region that do well, especially the younger ones which we’ve done for many years. And also that you’ll stand up for them when they feel that’s needed,” he said.
He began his career in England volunteering for a commercial radio station and learnt a lot and got to know many people.
He was offered employment at the age of 21 for a local newspaper and soon rose through the ranks to be a Sports Editor of a morning newspaper, which involved a lot of long nights.
He credits this success to knowing the right people at the right time.
He thoroughly enjoyed this work which was a dream role, but it required long hours and personal sacrifices.
He left the editing role and emigrated to Australia 15 years ago with his family and was offered the role at Quest Newspapers.
He said that there is a future at the local level in newspapers and while distribution patterns have shifted, volume is rising which indicated the importance of local news.
He said one of the best things about running the local paper was putting out a good product, seeing the community develop and being involved with the Young Star Awards, an initiative developed in and for Brisbane.
Young people aged between 12 and 18 are acknowledged and recognised for their achievements in areas such as arts, education, community work and sport and their progression is followed by the paper.
It is one way the newspaper is able to give back to the community it represents.
He also said one of the other advantages was the paper can “play a role in helping people.”
For example, the local papers will be featuring wrap-arounds on the upcoming storm season and the new Redcliffe Peninsula Rail line opening.
He said he always wanted to get into Journalism and that it required passion for the task, dedication to the readers and wanting to a good job for them.
Primarily, his advice for people wanting a career as a journalist is to be prepared for hard work and to make sacrifices, have a passion for the people in the area and for telling a story.
He said be willing to work unusual hours, be open-minded and get involved in the community.
“Get out there and meet people, [have a] thick skin and don’t pigeon-hole yourself.
“Do anything, all-rounder, work hard, have an understanding of everything and throw yourself at it but don’t expect to get rich.”
While the financial riches might be small, the personal and emotional riches and rewards gained for the community and the local journalist are enriching and encouraging in themselves.