BBC local democracy reporter plans given go ahead
02 February 2017
The creation of 150 local democracy reporters and proposals set out in the BBC White Paper to support local journalism have now been given the go ahead to be rolled out across the country.
The proposals, first announced by the BBC’s Director of News at a Society of Editors conference in Southampton in 2014 and supported by the Society of Editors, will also see the creation of a News Bank and a Data Journalism Hub.
The plans, which have been discussed at length with the media industry through the News Media Association and through a BBC Local Journalism Working Party that the Society of Editors attended, will see democracy reporters installed in regional and local newsrooms to cover councils and other public services.
The reporters, who will be funded by the BBC but employed by qualifying local news organisations, will generate stories that will be made available for use to local news outlets and the BBC. A video news bank will also enable BBC local video and audio news content to be accessed by other local news media websites.
The Society of Editors welcomed the announcement and said that it looked forward to the phased implementation of the reporters that would start in the summer.
It added: “The partnership, discussed at length for over a year with the media industry, is to be welcomed. The creation of local democracy reporters will supplement the vital work that is already carried out in the regions and continue to enhance democracy at both a regional and local level.”
The plans will be funded by money from the BBC Licence Fee with £8million a year for the duration of the new Royal Charter having been allocated. The scheme will be subject to joint review by the BBC and the NMA.
James Harding, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs also welcomed the scheme.
He said: “As more power is devolved across the UK, it’s more important than ever that we cover, understand and hold to account local politicians and public services. The BBC has worked hard with local news organisations to develop a scheme that gives an opportunity to a new generation of reporters and strengthens the local news coverage for all our audiences.”
Photo: Johnston Press' Jeremy Clifford discussed the plans alongside BBC Local Journalism Group editor Matthew Barraclough at the SoE conference in Carlisle in 2016