Journalist Shirish Kulkarni shares learnings from his Clwstwr R&D project, News Storytelling through Modular Journalism.

If I asked you to guess what links Matty Healy (lead singer of The 1975), Jeff Jarvis (Journalism professor at City University New York and leading thinker in online news) and Denise Welch (Coronation Street actress and Loose Women presenter), then you might struggle.

Bizarrely, they’re just three of the thousands of people who’ve read, endorsed and shared my Clwstwr News Storytelling Research.

When I started working on the project I had no idea what I was going to discover, or if anyone was going to be interested, so it’s been really gratifying to see just how widely the ideas have travelled and the breadth of interest in the work.

I think this tells us a number of things. Firstly, there’s a real appetite for news that’s different and better. In tests of the prototypes we made, users overwhelmingly preferred them to the news articles they’re currently reading. Secondly, taking the time to question what we’re doing, why we do it and if it’s really working is absolutely crucial in every industry - the problem in journalism is that we rarely do. Thirdly, in an industry which is heavily centred on and in London, it’s more clear than ever that those of us working in the creative sector in South Wales have the talent, imagination and tenacity to make a difference on the national and international stage.

It’s clear that the aim of kickstarting and supporting a research culture in the creative sector is already proving successful and bearing fruit. Research is an inherently creative process of course. For me it’s been all about turning received wisdom on its head and synthesising radical ideas into something compelling and thought-provoking. Isn’t that what the best music, theatre, film or dance is about?

I’m hugely grateful for the opportunities Clwstwr has given me. Freelancers very rarely get the opportunity to apply for funding like this, but some of the most interesting and impactful projects so far have been conceived and delivered by freelancers. In fact, the biggest privilege of doing this project has been getting to meet and learn from so many fascinating people across the creative industries in the region.

Hopefully, one of the things we’ve learnt from the events of the last few months is that understanding and sharing diversity of thought and experience are crucial if we’re to build industries that truly reflect and value everyone in our society. My work wouldn’t have happened without the support of Clwstwr, but I’m proud that it’s already starting to have an effect on the wider journalism world. Similar things are true of many of the funded projects and I really look forward to seeing the impact of those ideas in the coming months and years.