Ryan O'Neill (WalesOnline)


Ringland is traditionally one of Newport's most neglected areas but is on the cusp of redevelopment, which I felt would be a good reason to ask people what they thought of the area and its future plans. Ringland is tight-knit and understandably suspicious of press coverage, so I spent a couple of days down there chatting to passers-by, residents and businesses to gain their trust, as well as speaking to some residents I'd found online. I then spent a day speaking to people on the record and came out with a fuller picture of the frustration felt by people, their hopes for the area and the caution with which they viewed the area being knocked down and mostly rebuilt.

This approach was similar for my story on Maindee, a hugely culturally diverse area which was once bustling but has, like many, suffered from the high street downturn in recent years. After some initial conversations with people on the phone, which painted a picture of the area, I went down with a photographer and spoke to people there and got a wide range of voices from businesses, residents and community workers who gave their memories, hopes and views on Maindee and what it needs. Although some were busy on the day, we took pictures of them and took their details so I could speak to them over the phone to finish off the story. I felt what I ended up with was a comprehensive look at an area with a lot of character, which was backed up by strong images. I got some good feedback on this story from a number of community members who rang me to say they appreciated the story, even if it was not entirely positive. I felt it was important to portray what people had told me honestly, rather than present anything that was free of any negativity. Finally, my story on Newport required me to take my familiarity with the city to find key players across its culture, economy, housing and other aspects to fully illustrate where the city was at in 2022. I used my contacts book to arrange to speak with important figures from Celtic Manor's CEO to small businesses, housing associations and hoteliers to give an honest portrayal of how Newport has progressed. This story had a six-page spread in the Western Mail magazine and several people including councillors and business owners approached me to say they felt it was an accurate, in-depth portrayal of the city. As a local reporter who only started covering Newport in 2020 having only lived in Wales a matter of months, I feel these stories demonstrate excellent reporting in getting to grips with a city never covered at length by WalesOnline previously, by examining the city's makeup and giving a voice to some of its communities for whom any press coverage is normally negative and reductive.