A total of 15 hyperlocal news providers have been ruled eligible to bid for the chance to employ one of 150 local democracy reporters in partnership with the BBC.
The initiative will see regional and local publishers given access to £8m a year of license fee money to employ reporters to cover public bodies such as local councils.
Content produced by the reporter will be shared with the BBC, while the local newspapers and websites involved will also get access to BBC content.
The first phase of the scheme, which determines whether publishers are eligible to receive the BBC content and bid for one of the 150 reporters, has seen 15 independent news providers qualify.
When the scheme was first announced, there was criticism from some hyperlocal publishers that they were being excluded from the project and that most if not all of the funding would go the established groups.
Editor of Wrexham.com Rob Taylor said: “We are pleased to have been accepted for Phase One of the scheme and look forward to the outputs.
“I just hope it is not used an excuse to cut staff or coverage elsewhere as the aim of the game surely should be an increase in oversight rather than shifting costs.
“In theory, it should benefit our readers by having a pool report to dip into where we are unable to cover, plus some additional audio/visual outputs.
“Hopefully it is deployed and used across the UK as it was intended, with the benefit being to society as a whole, rather than offsetting a cost on a spreadsheet somewhere.”
Citizen editor Keith Magnum said: “Holding local councils to account is as important as it’s ever been. We hope the BBC Local Democracy Reporter scheme will help us bring an increasing number of in-depth political stories to our readers.”
The BBC’s Head of Local News Partnerships, Matthew Barraclough told the C4CJ: “The Local News Partnerships have been drawn up to be as inclusive as possible while at the same time requiring a commitment to high editorial standards.
“The partnership is open to any qualifying provider and we would encourage small independent news publishers to apply in the next round of approvals.”
The full list of successful hyperlocal applicants in Phase 1 of the project is as follows:
Brighton & Hove News
West Bridgford Wire
West Leeds Dispatch