Q & A

Questions posted here for wider use - the CIC is not currently trading or seeking funds for any projects.

What is your legal structure?
Community Interest Company with management group

What are your aims?
- to improve information and communication in the area
- to improve use of local services and businesses
- to develop a culture of self expression in which people can have their voice heard

Local Edition (newspaper - no longer in production)

How does your project reach people who often miss out on being able to access services?
Being distributed to every bar, community centre, hairdressers etc, and by being in an accessible and simple format, the newspaper aims to reach people not necessarily accessing ‘official’ information from councils, local services etc. By buying advertising space, these organizations can get their own messages across while the editorial in the paper also includes content designed to encourage participation such as community listings, news in brief and articles encouraging participation.

Contributions are open to everybody, but many of the people we want to be involved are unlikely to get involved without encouragement – this is why we want to build capacity in outreach and workshop organization which will target specific groups to tell them about the opportunities available in the newspaper and encourage them to be involved in workshops that will be relevant to their own needs and interests.

How do you consult people who use the project about the services you provide?
We hold regular editorial meetings and the newspaper has a very direct relationship with its readers and advertisers so feedback is very frequent.

We would like an outreach/impact coordinator who will be able to reach the groups that are less likely to give us feedback.

What are the problems you are trying to address?
The Northern area of Stoke-on-Trent is an area in which many different agencies are ‘intervening’ in core areas including housing, education and jobs. The fact that there hasn’t been a centralized point of information has resulted in a climate of suspicion and rumour in which people feel disengaged. These are the same people who suffer most from the decline in traditional industries. Publications that do exist run on mainstream-media lines, closed except to those who know the system.
While there is a lot of encouragement to start new businesses, there is no low-cost medium for them to promote themselves. The general lack of economic activity in Burslem in particular contributes to the overall sense of decline and increases the risk for those businesses that do want to set up.
There are low levels of literacy which means many attempts to communicate by the agencies creating change fail to reach their intended audience.

What are you trying to do to address these problems?
The newspaper, Local Edition, is a high quality, professional and lively newspaper which conveys information simply and accessibly. It gives free opportunities to advertise community activities and also contributes to the promotion of the area’s businesses and services.
The journalism ethos of the newspaper is to be constructive and, while asking questions and allowing criticism, taking a positive view of the area to try and bring people in to shop or use local services. This will have a knock-on effect of increasing prosperity and helping more people to know about what is happing in their area. This is to try and raise the self esteem of people and their perception of the area.
With this information, people are more likely to access the services available to them and as a weekly newspaper it is also a tool to improve literacy.
A community participation project would take involvement in the paper a step forward, increasing the number of contributions and developing skills in social/citizen journalism and self expression.

What are the benefits of your project?
- create better connections between people and the services available to them in the medium they are more likely to read
- improve basic skills through the availability of a free newspaper and the workshop programme
- improve the chances of success for new and existing businesses and the prosperity of the area’s people as a whole by supporting new businesses and jobs
- improve participation in local activities, particularly those that are free to access
- build a culture of self expression and personal engagement where people can make their voices heard
- improve citizen journalism skills which can be used by people to build their own websites and write press releases etc, enabling them to become advocates for their own groups.

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