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PA local reporting project could cost up to £18m

A so-called “public service reporting” initiative to be run by the Press Association would cost up to £18m and need between 500 and 800 reporters.

In July, PA’s managing director Tony Watson told a committee of MPs that the news agency wanted to run a pilot scheme aimed at in-depth coverage of public bodies such as courts and councils on a local level.

The agency’s head of training Tony Johnston, speaking at last night’s Digital Editors Network meeting in Preston, said the pilot could cost between £15m and £18m and require up to 800 reporters. reports that Tony told the meeting a two-week trial had already been conducted in Essex.

PA is now looking at a six to 12-month project in Liverpool and, once it has been reviewed, the agency would seek funding to take the project nationwide while a second pilot could be started soon.

Tony Watson told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in July: “Is there content out there around public institutions which is not getting into the media due to lack of resources?

“One way to do this is to stick a bunch of reporters into one of these institutions. Coverage of their activities is essential to the functions of a democracy.

“Yet, there are courts up and down the land where reporters are not covering these proceedings.

“People are being sent to prison without anybody being there to report the fact.

“There’s no question that, because of pressure on resources, it is itself coming under pressure.”


Not sure… (30/10/2009 12:12:21)
How does this tally with the increasing practice of PA reporters “picking up” court copy rather than covering a case in full? Or the increasing reliance on trainees rather than experienced journalists?
This is a great idea in principle, but PA can hardly claim it is immune staffing cuts and the growing tendency for superficial coverage.

Mr_Osato (30/10/2009 15:13:25)
So the local newspaper companies could easily fund this themselves, while making barely a dent in the massive profits they make even during these grim economic times. Why should they get public cash to do so?

christie (02/11/2009 10:03:48)
Where are they going to publish this stuff? Local newspapers/websites are they only places were most news from local courts and council would be published, so are the PA now moving in like the BBC to contribute to the death of the local press. It’s obviously good that this would create reporters’ jobs but would this come at the price of the death of the local newspaper? Hope not, because in the local area where I work, PA would have a tough task on their hands getting more solid coverage of courts and council.