As the holiday season approaches, it feels like a nice time to reflect on a busy, exciting and incredibly rewarding year for Inclusive Journalism Cymru. Although we’d been working on the foundations for a little while, 2023 was the year in which we started to put those plans into action and things started to happen. Incredibly, we now have almost 250 members, and it’s been great to work with so many of you on the projects and events we’ve run this year.
Here are just a few of the things the Inclusive Journalism Cymru team have worked on over the last twelve months.
Cymru & I
We launched our new website in January, with a callout for writers to be part of Cymru & I – a book of non-fiction essays, in collaboration with Seren Books and supported by the Books Council of Wales.
When we first started working on the book, it felt really important to us that writers were paid fairly, and also that the process was as open and inclusive as possible. We ended up getting more than 40 submissions – which is an indication of the depth and breadth of talent across our membership.
It’s a beautiful mix of stories and has been very well received. The book was covered in The Bookseller magazine and you can learn more about the impact of the project in this short video. Most importantly, it’s given our writers a really important platform and we’re excited to see what they all go on to achieve in the future.
Inclusive Media Development Lab
I’ve always been very clear that perhaps the two most important things missing from the media landscape in Wales are enough people from marginalised backgrounds and/or identities, and enough people with the “business” skills and experience to build economically sustainable projects. Telling stories is easy – getting someone to pay for them is the difficult bit.
Our Inclusive Media Development Lab was an attempt to kill both those birds with one stone. With support from the Welsh Government and in partnership with Startup Migrants, Media Cymru, the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the PDR Design Lab, we brought members together for a weekend of collaboration and learning. They heard from a range of brilliant guest speakers and worked on challenges that explored how to identify problems, find solutions and develop sustainable products and services.
You can read Ka Long Tung’s reflections on the Lab on our blog. He sums the weekend up beautifully when he writes, “By figuring out who we were and why we were here, we challenged ourselves to think about what changes we would like to bring about to the journalism and media industry.”
Here’s just a flavour of the feedback from other participants:
“The Lab was fantastic, it opened up a new way of thinking for me and I feel very lucky to have been able to attend…it will stay in my head for a long time.”
“I have already used connections made during the Lab to further develop my idea for a business and I’m really excited about where these conversations can lead! I would never have reached this stage of planning without the Lab and the great speakers.”
“It’s given me more confidence to think and talk about how we can make our industry more inclusive – and what my role can be in making that happen. It left me feeling optimistic and hopeful about the future.”
“This Lab experience significantly bolstered my confidence and instilled a profound sense of belonging within me. I was genuinely awed by the multitude of independent journalists fervently committed to effecting positive change.”
Personally, our members’ blogs are the opportunity we’ve provided which I’m perhaps most proud of. I love the space our writers have created, using the platform to tell their stories and voice powerful calls to action for the wider journalism and media sector.
They’ve covered class, neurodivergence, trans rights, invisible disabilities and lots more. As an example of the opportunities we hoped the blog would unlock, Diffwys Criafol’s incredible writing about her working class background struck a chord across the UK and even further afield – being republished in journalism.co.uk and Portugal’s Mensagem de Lisboa and being quoted in an Oxford Student article (by another IJC member, Emily Hudson) too. As Diffwys says herself, “After struggling to get work pitching articles when I tried freelance work, writing the blog was a positive experience and it led to several other opportunities”. Those opportunities include being commissioned to write a book!
We’re so happy to see the impact writing for Inclusive Journalism Cymru can have, and it’s a real priority for us. We pay £100 for each blog, and if you’d like to write for us, we’ve created a really simple “how to” guide to let you know what we’re looking for and how the process works.
Partnership with QueerAF
We know that systemic change in the industry will only happen if we work together, collaborate, and build coalitions which lift us all up. That’s why we’re incredibly happy to be working with QueerAF, an independent platform that supports emerging LGBTQIA+ creatives.
Through our partnership, three of our members have been commissioned and mentored to write a series of three articles each. These will be co-published by Inclusive Journalism Cymru and QueerAF so that they have the widest possible impact.
As Jamie from QueerAF puts it, “This exciting partnership will help us continue to model the change we want to see in the media industry by sharing our approach and methods with another organisation doing vital work in this space.”
We’ve rolled out a programme of Masterclasses, starting with events on longform writing (featuring Suyin Haynes from gal-dem and Professor Charlotte Williams) and podcasting (featuring our own Damian Kerlin and the BBC’s Hannah Àjàlá).
We’ve already got more in the works for the new year – including one on Newsletters (featuring, Jamie Wareham from QueerAF, Joshi Herrmann from Mill Media and Isabelle Roughoul who writes The Lede), and events on Investigative Journalism, Interviewing Techniques and Building Communities.
Policy & Research
Of course one of the key aims of Inclusive Journalism Cymru – as outlined in our Strategic Framework – is to campaign for and drive systemic change in the industry and society. Inclusive Journalism Cymru members now have multiple seats on the Welsh Government’s Public Interest Journalism Working Group, and I was also a member of the Expert Panel on the Devolution of Broadcasting and Communications. As you would expect, in both those spaces we have consistently advocated for a greater focus on inclusion and innovation.
We’ve also called for policy decisions to be made on the basis of data and evidence. For that reason, we’ve partnered with Cardiff University’s Centre for the Creative Economy and the Institute of Welsh Affairs on a government-funded project to map the journalism sector in Wales. In a freelance capacity, our Project Manager Silvia Rose is also working on that exercise – capturing crucial qualitative data through interviews and focus groups. We look forward to seeing the results of that work, and to helping develop responses to the systemic issues it will undoubtedly shed a light on.
It was lovely to see so many members at our AGM, which took place alongside the launch of Cymru & I in September. We know though, that not everyone can make an in-person event in Cardiff, so we decided not to make any decisions there and then. Instead, we’ve used our discussions at Chapter as the inspiration for a survey which we’ve sent out to all members. If you want to have a say in the future of Inclusive Journalism Cymru or get more involved yourself, then there’s still time to fill in the form here. We’ll keep it open until 12th January, and will then report back to you on the results. We’re really excited about what the next steps hold, and for as many members as possible to be part of those.
Writing this has obviously given me the opportunity to reflect on how much Inclusive Journalism Cymru has achieved. It’s already become far more than I thought it would ever be when I first put out a very tentative message on twitter a couple of years ago, and I have a lot of people to thank for that.
Firstly, I want to thank the funders and partners who’ve made this work possible. We’re very grateful to the Lankelly Chase Foundation who’ve provided the core funding that’s got us this far and secures our work for at least another two years. The Welsh Government has supported both our Inclusive Media Development Lab and the Mapping the Sector research project. The Books Council of Wales and Seren provided both financial and practical support for “Cymru & I”. Media Cymru and PDR also provided financial and in-kind support for the Inclusive Media Development Lab
We’re delighted to have also worked with Opus Independents, the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Startup Migrants and QueerAF across our other projects, and we look forward to building on those relationships in the future.
Secondly, I’d like to thank the small but perfectly formed Inclusive Journalism team, Damian Kerlin and Silvia Rose. The brilliant work outlined in this review is largely down to their hard work, commitment and care and it’s a pleasure and privilege to do this alongside them. This is largely work we do in our spare time, but I’m incredibly proud of how far this team punches above its weight.
I also want to thank Siriol Griffiths and Emily Price who stepped down as Directors of Inclusive Journalism Cymru earlier this year, but played a crucial role in getting us to where we are today – particularly as co-editors of Cymru & I.
Finally, I want to thank you all – our members. The more of us there are, the greater the power we have. The fact that so many of you have signed up to the network, and have engaged with our activities, sends a clear message to the sector. This isn’t a “pipeline problem”. We exist, we have a voice and we’re calling o the sector to change to ensure that journalism reflects and represents everyone in Wales. I’m really glad we can be part of that change together.