Boost for reporting of local democracy

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Brought to you by your local newspaper.

The BBC’s Local News Partnerships have taken a key step towards the creation of a pool of reporters to cover council and public meetings.

Contracts to employ an initial 144 full-time and two part-time local democracy reporters have been allocated to 58 news organisations in England, Scotland and Wales following a competitive bidding process.

Those news organisations – ranging from a radio station to online media companies and established regional newspaper groups, such as our parent company, Johnston Press – will now receive funding from the BBC to cover employment costs of the reporters.

And one of the new reporters will be based at the Northumberland Gazette office in Alnwick.

Once recruited, stories written by the reporters will be shared with more than 700 media organisations that have signed up to be part of the scheme.

David Holdsworth, controller of BBC English Regions, said: “This is a major advance in the partnership which will significantly improve the reporting on councils and public institutions, leading to greater public accountability for our local politicians.”

As part of its Charter commitment, the BBC is investing up to £8million annually in the partnerships during the next nine years to the end of the Charter.

Ashley Highfield, chairman of the News Media Association (NMA), said: “The ground-breaking Local News Partnership between the NMA and the BBC is now becoming a reality which will benefit the BBC, local media and, most importantly, local communities.

“The initiative has moved the whole relationship between the BBC and the local media sector from confrontation to collaboration and key benefits will include 150 new journalists on the ground holding public institutions to account on behalf of their readers.”