There is not always a need for craft. By craft, we mean the high quality standards that you might expect when you watch media on the television, listen to a national radio show, or read an article in a newspaper.

These high standards often come as a result of many years of training where professionals learn their skills. 

Communities are experts in their own experiences. But they might not be experts in using film cameras, taking photos, interviewing others or writing headlines. Although technology is always improving, most still only have low resolution cameras. Some don’t have one at all.

Recording clear audio reports is easier but when you hear shows on the radio there is a lot of expertise that goes into making them sound great. 

None of that matters if you are simply gathering information for internal research or to listen to communities about the things that are important to them. However, if you or the participant do want to share the story publicly then there is more work to be done.


What to ask


What to try

Co-production is a broad term for producing something collaboratively. In the world of community journalism we use it to define the valuable work that can be done when those with professional skills and experience work in partnership with those with lived experience.

The goal is not always to put the camera, microphone or pen in the hands of participants and ask them to produce something (although that can be done to great effect in the right context).

Instead, it is about bringing together their community access and knowledge with professional skills:

Alongside this your team may continue to oversee the development of the story and creative style of the final product (it might be a film, animation or a podcast). You will also be able to make sure that the appropriate compliance and consent protocols are done correctly. 

In the final stages of co-production communities can play an important role in the editing process to ensure that what they are seeing or hearing reflects their experiences and voices accurately.

You can achieve a great authenticity and warmth by pairing up those who can film videos, record clear audio and help to shape a story, with those who have deep experience and expertise on a particular issue. This is often missed when a professional leads on that story from start to finish. 


What to explore

The reality is that most people just want to be heard on the matters that affect their lives. Co-production can be a way to create something that is really high quality which can get their story seen publicly by a wider audience. 

For a participant who wants to gain experience in the world of journalism, there are options to help them. Check out Four Corners Films who do regular productions training and recently ran Making the Cut – Film and TV training for disabled people.

For turning audio reports or recorded phone calls into written text, we use Trint which is a great tool. They have a free trial for a one off project or a simple month plan, depending on how much you want to use it.