Steven Collins is the first Community Reporter to be appointed in the country and will focus on covering news from the rural communities of Worcestershire.
Steven, 39, who said he has “Asperger syndrome and is proud of it”, takes up the Community Reporter role while halfway through studying for the NCTJ diploma by distance learning.
Facebook is funding around 80 Community Reporters in the UK through a £4.5m charitable donation to the NCTJ to support a two year Community News project with regional publishers which also aims to bring more diversity into newsrooms, says Newsquest.
Steven, who previously worked in the care industry supporting people with mental and physical disabilities, said: “I cried when I was offered the job because it was my life’s ambition to become a journalist and I never thought it would happen. It was a very emotional moment for me.
“I’m really looking forward to giving a voice to people in rural communities who perhaps feel their views and issues aren’t always heard.”
Newsquest Worcester’s editor, Michael Purton, said: “I’m really proud that we’re the first to appoint a Facebook funded Community Reporter, and I’m even prouder that we’ve taken on Steven as it’s fantastic to help someone realise a lifelong ambition that they thought would never come true.
“During the recruitment process, I was blown away by Steven’s passion for local journalism and his determination to become a reporter. He’s going to be a huge asset to our newsroom.
“We all know how important Facebook is for helping local newspapers connect with their community, so for Facebook to fund these roles is fantastic for our industry.”