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Bidding opened for BBC local democracy reporter contracts

Ashley-Highfield2-e1401302531277Regional news outlets can now bid for the right to run contracts for the BBC’s local democracy reporting scheme.

The application process has opened for the £8m scheme, with 54 contracts set to be awarded as part of a project to recruit a network of 150 local democracy reporters across the country.

The journalists will be funded by the BBC licence fee, but employed by local press groups which are successful in winning the contracts.

The scheme has been set up by the BBC and News Media Association with the aim of improving coverage of councils and other institutions across the UK.

NMA chairman Ashley Highfield, pictured above left, said: “This is a major milestone in the partnership forged between the NMA and the BBC where we can announce the start of the recruitment process for the 150 local democracy reporters.

“Media organisations will be able to bid to run the contracts for the reporters, which means we will see the addition of nearly 150 journalists working in newsrooms up and down the country.

“Once recruited and in place they will help to support the scrutiny our news organisations provide for the way public money is spent by local councils and authorities – which is a fundamental part of our local democracy.”

In July, 15 hyperlocal news providers were ruled to be eligible to bid for the contracts alongside larger publishers.

Content produced by the reporters will be shared with the BBC, while the local newspapers and websites involved will also get access to BBC content.

David Holdsworth, BBC controller of English Regions, said: “With the application process opening for the contracts for local democracy reporters this week we have reached another important milestone in the Local News Partnership.

“Reporting on council meetings and holding regional politicians to account is a major part of the democratic process.”

Applications close on 13 October.

4 comments

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  • September 13, 2017 at 8:44 am
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    Disgusting. The newspaper groups will now be crowing how important it is to have additional staff, paid for by the taxpayer, when all they’ve done this last decade is get rid of staff right, left, centre and beyond.
    This is a sham project.
    For newspapers, print or online, to win sustainable audience figures, they need to start upping quality.
    At the moment, it’s clickbait, never mind the quality feel the width. Newspapers tweet news out of their traditional circulation areas. Not necessarily bad, but often quite some time after the same news has been released and posted elsewhere.
    Employ more staff to help us journos make a positive difference. Don’t expect the taxpayer to fund reporters. I’m not only saddened but disgusted.

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  • September 13, 2017 at 11:13 am
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    It will all be good. Ashers is in charge. Ask his many admirers in JP.

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  • September 13, 2017 at 11:56 am
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    So as the BBC is paying for these reporters, where the regional press already has court/council reporters, they’ll be able to hire extra reporters, right?

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  • September 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm
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    Councils will have to rearrange the furniture. Many have not seen a scribbler from local paper since grandma was a boy.

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