THE Oxford Mail has welcomed its first Facebook-funded reporter to the team who will focus on covering news from under-represented communities in Oxford.

Stanislaw Skarzynski, 36, is from Poland and is now living near Bicester.

He started his role on Monday and will specifically be responsible for reporting news from communities in Oxford and the county that do not usually get as much coverage.

Born and raised in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, Mr Skarzynski has been a journalist for ten years at various news outlets in Poland such as Radio Zet.

He specifically reports on politics, but in his new role plans to report on what really matters to communities.

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He said: “Politics is my natural area of expertise but by being a community reporter I will be able to link it to the bigger picture and see whether people in their homes and local communities are really connected to politics.

“I’ll get to see politics from a different side – from the people’s point of view.”

Mr Skarzynski, who moved to the UK just three months ago, said he is looking forward to connecting the younger generation with local news too.

He said: “Not only am I going to report on communities that are under-represented, but I want to find a way to re-engage with younger readers and adapt the news for them. We often think of social media as a lesser medium but it’s not, it’s powerful.”

The role of the community reporter is to encourage more reporting from areas which are currently under-served, such as towns which have lost their local newspaper and beat reporters.

The scheme, which has been rolled out nationwide, is funded by Facebook where 80 community news journalists are being recruited for two-year fixed-term contracts with a £4.5m charitable donation to the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists).

The NCTJ is working with regional publishers to roll out the scheme, called The Community News Project, which also aims to increase diversity in newsrooms.

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Our new community reporter said: “There are communities that are politically inactive and socially inactive so it is important to reach out to them and help them to have a voice.”

He especially wanted to move to the UK with his wife because of the great opportunities here and also to get away from Polish politics which he says is very out of date.

He said: “I became really tired of Polish politics. Even though the UK is currently going through Brexit, Poland is way behind.

“It is behind in many ways, even in small things such as recycling, gay marriage rights and ethnic minority representation in the media. But here, it’s all happening - it’s reality.”

He added: “As well as the economic reasons why people migrate, these reasons are just as important. People want to find communities that reflect their views.”

Mr Skarzynski said choosing to live in the vicinity of Oxford played a factor in moving to the area.

He said: “It’s brilliant living here. It’s like jumping 20-30 years in time.”

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After graduating with a degree in sociology at University of Warsaw, our new reporter has worked for a number of publications since.

He recently worked as a fact checker at and was the managing editor of the opinion section at Gazeta Wyborcza, the largest liberal daily magazine in Poland.

He has also been a public relations specialist at Poczta Polska (The Polish Post) as a speech-writer, press statements author and a journalist and supervisor for the magazine.

He believes this new role will allow him to connect more with people.

Mr Skarzynski said: “There is no question that social media is heavily responsible for local press decline but the key is to reach the local communities especially the ones that are under-represented. I hope to make the audience believe and feel that this paper is their’s.”

The scheme is being run with a range of publishers as well as Newsquest, including Reach, JPIMedia, Archant and Midland News Association.

With social media playing a growing role in the way people consume news today, Facebook has said it is committed to doing more to support publishers.

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Mr Skarzynski is training alongside his reporting role to get his NCTJ qualifications and will also have access to a range of training from Facebook, focused on digital news-gathering skills.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said: “The NCTJ cares deeply about the number, quality and diversity of journalists working in our local communities.

“We are very proud to support the sustainability of quality local journalism by overseeing the recruitment of additional local news journalists from diverse and inclusive backgrounds and by ensuring they are properly trained and qualified.”

Four independent publishers have also joined the Facebook-funded scheme, including The Barnsley Chronicle, Baylis Media, the KM Group and the Newbury Weekly News.