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New reporter Iona MJ MacDonald is set to enhance news in north–west Highlands

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Iona will be serving communities around the north-west Highlands, including Lochinver.
Iona will be serving communities around the north-west Highlands, including Lochinver.

A new trainee reporter is ready to enhance the news offering in the north-west Highlands after being employed by Highland News and Media.

Iona MJ MacDonald joined the team in June and will cover a patch stretching from Ullapool in Wester Ross to Bettyhill in north Sutherland.

She has been recruited thanks to a successful project between Meta – formerly known as Facebook – and the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Iona, who is based in Ullapool, has been employed as a trainee community reporter. She will spend time reporting for the Ross-shire Journal, Northern Times and Caithness Courier/John O'Groat Journal, while completing a gold-standard diploma in journalism.

Iona said: "This is the opportunity I have been waiting for, I'm learning so much and I'm really exited to give a voice to local communities and tell the stories that are often missed. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and can't wait to start reporting."

Meta in partnership with the NCTJ relaunched their Community News Project, which aims to support local journalism and improve diversity of local newsrooms. The reporters work to give a voice to under-served communities, while training towards their diploma.

When the NCTJ and Meta announced that they would be renewing the project for a further two years, and creating over 100 new reporter jobs across the UK, Highland News and Media successfully applied to take part. The scheme encourages diversity by employing reporters from all walks of life, with less importance placed on industry qualifications or reporting experience.

Iona MJ MacDonald on Bank Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Iona MJ MacDonald on Bank Street. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Iona, having recently completed her exams at Ullapool High School, started with the Northern Times and Ross-Shire Journal in mid-June.

Iona's NCTJ training will be run through Glasgow Clyde College, starting in August.

"I'm really exited to learn new skills, and to connect with the other reporters in the Community News Project, and learn from them how to better connect with rural communities," Iona added. "Being from the north-west Highlands myself, I know how much this project will benefit our local area."

John Davidson, content and commercial editor at Highland News and Media, said: "We are delighted to have recruited Iona into the role of trainee community reporter covering the north-west Highlands. Her enthusiasm shone through during the whole recruitment process and she has great potential to develop her skills with the excellent training and support on offer through the NCTJ and Meta, as well as through in-house support and training.

"The communities in the north-west deserve to have greater coverage and we are embracing this opportunity to give them a voice, and at the same time improve the digital offering we provide via our websites and app.

"If anybody has a story to tell, feel free to get in touch with Iona and share the news!"

You can contact Iona by email on iona.macdonald@hnmedia.co.uk

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