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Final year of Llais y Maes
By Hannah Scarbrough | 31st Jul 2015
2015 marks the final year for Llais y Maes (Voice from the Field), the bilingual digital newspaper run by Cardiff University students. 18 students have been trained in key journalistic skills such as creating news content, writing, video editing and social search as part of the three-year project, which took place in partnership with the National Eisteddfod. Students have provided an alternative view of the festival and uncovered exclusives that have made their way into the schedules of BBC Wales, S4C and ITV.
Llais y Maes was established in 2012 as the first ever digital newspaper dedicated to the National Eisteddfod of Wales. Run by Emma Meese, Manager of Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism, and Sali Collins, the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s Journalism lecturer Cardiff University, the project was designed to give students a real-world journalistic reporting challenge, and to provide the festival with coverage from a fresh perspective.
Several of the students who have taken part in the project have gone on to find jobs in organisations such as S4C, helped by the skills they honed on the fields of the Eisteddfod. Lily Price-Jenkins participated in the first year of Llais y Maes and has since landed her ideal role as Assistant Producer – Content Discovery & Social (Online & Learning Department) at BBC Cymru Wales.
Lily says: “Llais y Maes has been an invaluable stepping stone for my career. Taking part during the project’s first year in Ruthin, it has been fantastic to watch the project grow. Working on the project allowed me to develop essential practical skills while building a valuable network of contacts, both of which have come in handy within my postgraduate career. Since working on Llais y Maes and graduating from Cardiff University, the team have stayed in touch offering their long-term support.”
Second-year Undergraduate Toby Mott was a member of 2014’s Llais y Maes team, and has gone on to achieve success in a variety of Cardiff University initiatives and has been recognised as ‘Highly Commended’ in the Cardiff Awards. Toby says: “Working at Llais y Maes not only provided me with a practical perspective on my predominantly theoretical journalism degree, but it also gave me the opportunity to hone my production skills (in both writing and filming) from within a live, hyperlocal newsroom.”
Welsh-language students who have taken part in Llais y Maes have also chosen to take advantage of Cardiff University’s new Welsh language provision for journalism studies as a direct result of their experience.
As the three-year project comes to a close, Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism has plans to ensure that its legacy continues into the future. Inspired by Llais y Maes, Carmarthenshire-based Menter Dinefwr created its own news website, Pobl Dinefwr, following the 2014 National Eisteddfod of Wales. Now it is hoped that a community group based in Montgomeryshire and the Marches will similarly take on the legacy of Llais y Maes with a new hyperlocal service.
Cardiff University launched the UK’s first academic Centre for Community Journalism in 2013 as one of Cardiff University’s flagship Engagement Projects, which aim to transform communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond. The Centre for Community Journalism researches into this growing sector and offers networking, information and training for community journalists. The University’s flagship engagement projects work with communities on issues such as tackling poverty, boosting the economy, and improving health, education and wellbeing.
Alongside running Llais y Maes, the Centre for Community Journalism will also be holding two events during the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2015 on the Cardiff University stand:
- Digidol ar Daith, 10am – 1pm, Tuesday 4 August: practical skills training session to encourage community members to create and share news online through the medium of Welsh.
- Celebrating communities, Midday, Friday 7 August: bringing together Eisteddfod fundraising committees together with Pobl Dinefwr who will talk about how news services can strengthen and connect communities in Wales.
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What a year, what a decade it's been for independent community news in the UK.