“Feverish activity” – setting up a hyperlocal

By Jeremy Gluck | 16th Oct 2013

The first fortnight of the “I Am News” project has been hectic, intense and also a lot of fun. Stuart Sumner-Smith, Project Manager, our Technical Project Leader Dave Berry, and myself, the Content Project Leader, toil in a small office almost hidden from daylight, like post-Millennial Morlocks goaded to nearly impossible feats by the mental Gantt chart that rules our Project lives.
The genesis of “I Am News” was in the realisation by its eventual Project Manager, Stu Sumner-Smith – who with me and abundant support co-wrote the successful People and Places funding application that has made it possible – that “We’d been working in the community for a few years promoting bands, artists and filmmakers and also looking to help with different social issues. There is a ton of talent in Swansea but the one thing Swansea needs is an organisation that focuses on promoting the talent in Swansea and also on the issues that the other news organisations don’t cover. There is quite a bit of media already on the web about Swansea but nothing like a dedicated community news organisation could give it.” Also, significantly, “I Am News” was conceived and created to provide informal training of value and credibility to those seeking opportunities to learn outside of mainstream adult education. More than anything, though, as Stu says, “I Am News is about all the stories of all the people in Swansea and beyond, recorded and published by the people.
Swansea Music Art and Dance (Swansea M.A.D.), out of which the “I Am News” bid grew, has been a presence in Swansea for five years, slowly building a rehearsal and recording facility for bands, and providing arts training for a number of local clients, including statutory sector. Our experience as volunteers with M.A.D. guided us in writing the bid; after a number of small funding successes it was clear the organisation needed the security and liquidity offered by long-term, substantial funds. Eight months of collaborative work later and the application went off, we forgot about it, and one day in April received a letter granting us the funding. After the happy shock wore I off, after some months away from it I skimmed our masterpiece application and asked myself, “How do we do this?” Now I know how: Feverish activity.
Well, it’s working out okay. “I Am News” is funded for three years. It began operating September 25th from offices on Swansea’s High Street, right in the middle of the city’s “Creative Hub” cultural regeneration area. An official launch event will take place in late October with demonstrations of our virtual news desk, multimedia capacity and ongoing live music involvement.
At the moment we are holding one training day a week, when prospective volunteers can join our embryonic programme of rolling modules covering film-making and journalism elements such as “What Makes Citizen News?”, “Social News Media”, “Basic Multi-cam Editing with Final Cut”, and group activities where volunteers, for example, film and edit an interview.

A great deal of networking and development lies ahead. A website is in development to showcase the work of our forming volunteer news team, and a YouTube channel will be live shortly to begin broadcasting. It’s a privilege to be part of “I Am News” and already a worthy challenge and education. Stay tuned!

For more information on I am News and how you can get involved, visit Volunteering Wales or contact Jeremy Gluck on 01792 655019.

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