Catch up on our 'Craft of Independent News' film series!
Over the last few years, I’ve got to know independent news publishers from every corner of the UK. We’ve met at conferences and seminars, in meeting rooms and universities. We’ve met in all sorts of places, in fact – except the very communities where independent publishers do their work.
We wanted to change that, and we wanted a wider audience to see the care and attention that independent publishers put into their work with communities up and down the UK.
So, we looked for a filmmaker who could bring independent publishing to life. And we found Emilie Flower.
Emilie makes films about human rights activists, artists and community organisers. ‘But I don’t know anything about independent publishing,’ she said when I got in touch with her.
‘Yes you do,’ I said. ‘Independent publishers are human rights activists, artists and community organisers, rolled into one. They’re also innovators, storytellers and entrepreneurs. Oh, and digital technologists, social media gurus and advertising salespeople. Do you think you can capture all that on film?’
‘I’ll give it a go,’ said Emilie, and away she went.
From her home in Yorkshire, Emilie travelled up to Shetland, where she hung out with Hans Marter of Shetland News; back down to Caerphilly, where she toured the villages and valleys with Richard Gurner of the Caerphilly Observer; via Bristol, where she looked in on Adam Cantwell-Corn at the Bristol Cable; across to London, to see Tobi Oredein at Black Ballad; and back up North, to visit Shahed Ezaydi and Sam Walby at Now Then in Sheffield; and Anne Akers, John Baron and Jill Stocks at the West Leeds Dispatch.
Emilie has turned every one of her visits into a short and (I think) exquisite portrait of the craft of public interest news. She shows independent publishers out at work, talking to people, and talking about what they do.
I love watching Emilie’s films, and meeting this fascinating group of publishers and journalists. I love seeing how warmly and sensitively they engage with everyone they meet. There’s something really remarkable about this. At first, I couldn’t quite work out what it was. And then I realised. No-one else does this. No-one else in a community is responsible for that community in quite the same way as a truly local news publisher.
Of course, there are teachers and doctors and councillors and social workers and shopkeepers and employers and police officers and others, all of whom care for the community and take some responsibility for it. But no-one else has the job of describing the community back to itself; of taking people’s lives and turning them into stories. This is the unique role of the local news provider.
Whilst big, corporate publishers do this from long distance, independent publishers do it whilst living in the community itself. This can create tensions, but it can also create opportunities for independent publishers to be more thoughtful in their journalism, and more respectful in how they deal with the people around them.
I’m proud to work with the publishers in these films, and I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I do.
Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director of PINF
Watch the full series now 👇
Episode 1 - Black Ballad
Episode 2 - The Bristol Cable
Episode 3 - The Caerphilly Observer
Episode 4 - Now Then
Episode 5 - Shetland News
Episode 6 - West Leeds Dispatch