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As a community reporter, Adam Maidment from Manchester Evening News (MEN) has the unique job of representing specific communities in the city and covering stories important to them. But he wasn’t always a journalist.

After working in PR for five years, Adam decided to switch careers and train for an NCTJ qualification with News Associates, equipping him with the essential skills he needed to land his job with MEN.

Adam talks to Journo Resources about what his day as an LGBT+ community reporter looks like, his path into journalism and his advice for people wanting to break into the industry. 

Adam used to work in PR, before he switched to journalism. (Image Credit: Supplied)

My job is…

Exciting, non-stop, challenging, rewarding, wild, varied, educational, inspiring and fabulous.

My day starts at…

About 8am when I’ll spend a good chunk of time browsing social media. TweetDeck and CrowdTangle are the first places I go because I’ve got specific columns and channels set up relating to my patches on Twitter and Facebook. Then, I’ll have a look on Google to see if anything has come up in my areas and work through my inbox. 

My typical day involves…

Sourcing, researching and pitching ideas to my editor that I’d like to work on. If my editor likes them, then I’ll get working on them alongside any other news tips that come in.

As a community reporter, I try to cover stories from underrepresented areas. My first patch is areas in south Manchester that have been affected by changing social and economic conditions.

My second patch is the LGBT+ community across Greater Manchester, which contributes massively to Manchester’s identity. We have some great groups in the area that are doing big things on a national level to change perceptions and fight for equality.

One of Adam’s most recent stories speaking to communities in Manchester. (Image Credit: MEN)

My typical day involves…

Sourcing, researching and pitching ideas to my editor that I’d like to work on. If my editor likes them, then I’ll get working on them alongside any other news tips that come in.

As a community reporter, I try to cover stories from underrepresented areas. My first patch is areas in south Manchester that have been affected by changing social and economic conditions.

My second patch is the LGBT+ community across Greater Manchester, which contributes massively to Manchester’s identity. We have some great groups in the area that are doing big things on a national level to change perceptions and fight for equality.

News Associates, where Adam studied, supported this article.

The thing which surprises me the most about my current job is…

Just how nice and supportive everyone is! I had built up this idea in my head that the newsroom was going to be this incredibly tense and competitive setting.

There’s definitely times when things are tough or hectic, but it’s been really nice to be able to bounce off my colleagues for advice and ideas.

“I had built up this idea in my head that the newsroom was going to be this incredibly tense and competitive setting… But it’s been really nice to be able to bounce off my colleagues of advice and ideas.”

I got the job because…

When I applied for this role, it was something I was adamant on getting. I left a five-year career in PR to get my NCTJ qualification at News Associates in Manchester. I had decided to drop everything to do this, which was evidence of how serious I was and how much I wanted it.

Without blowing my own trumpet, I’m hard-working, eager and determined to succeed. I had ideas, I had suggestions and I showed my personality throughout the job application process.

Adam says it’s useful to have a tough skin in journalism. (Image Credit: Supplied)

I’m most proud of…

Having a good number of my stories appear on the front page of the newspaper or leading the website – that’s a feeling that will never get old!

I’ve had stories go national too, which is a massive buzz. I’ve covered everything from trans rights protests to postmen dressing up as cartoon characters – it’s such a varied role and one that I’m incredibly proud of.

I always thought I’d end up doing…

Something to do with writing – I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a little kid, when I’d write pretend interviews with famous pop stars and mock-up fake magazines on the computer.

I previously spent five years working in PR, but I realised during that time that I wanted to be the journalist receiving the PR pitches instead of the other way around.

“If I had the opportunity to go back, I would definitely have tried to get more confident in front of the camera before being thrust into the deep end!”

Adam says he would urge young reporters to get confident with video. Image Credit: Supplied)

If I was starting again… 

I would have tried out more live streaming. As part of the Facebook Community Journalist scheme, I’ve had some fantastic training on how to do Facebook Lives but it’s something that still feels quite foreign to me and it’s definitely still a work in progress.

If I had the opportunity to go back, I would have definitely tried to get more confident in front of the camera before being thrust into the deep end!

If people wanted to follow in my footsteps, I’d say…

If you can, try and figure out how to use social media and data analytics. Being able to live tweet or use Facebook to source stories is so important. Now is the perfect time to have a play around with online tools.

Never be afraid to ask for clarification when you don’t understand something, whether from your editor, interviewee, or a press officer. This will get you out of a tricky situation later on when you’re the one needing to explain something!

“Never be afraid to ask for clarification when you don’t understand something, whether from your editor, interviewee, or a press officer.”

I’d be wary of… 

How important it is to have tough skin for this job. Not only do you need to get used to receiving feedback from your editors but you also need to be prepared for everyone else to scrutinise it too. It’s easy to get attached to your work, but you have to be able to find a way to be open to suggestions and learn from them.

Being a journalist now means you also need to be able to rise above criticism on social media. I don’t think that’s something you can ever prepare yourself for until it’s happened to you a few times.

News Associates – The Number One NCTJ Journalism School For Five Years Running

This piece was produced in conjunction with the team at News Associates. You can find out more about their full-time and part-time courses across both London and Manchester here.

The thing I’d most like to change about the industry is…

Having more underrepresented voices and diversity in journalism. Diverse personal perspectives and experiences can contribute massively to the newsroom and can help make sure that stories are representative of the whole area or topic you are reporting on.

After work…

I’m a bit of a video game nerd – I have a PS4 and Nintendo Switch that I alternate between.

Netflix has been an absolute saviour during the pandemic too. I love a good documentary series like Tiger King or the Night Stalker. I’m also working my way through a rewatch of Parks and Recreation – I think I love it even more than I did the first time round!

You can connect with Adam on his Twitter and Facebook and read his work on the Manchester Evening News website. This piece was produced in partnership with News Associates, the UK’s number one NCTJ journalism school. You can find out more about their courses here.