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BBC to link to stories on hyperlocal websites

BBC news

The BBC is planning to boost hyperlocal websites by linking to their content, as an extension of its plans to support local journalism.

The corporation has set out its “commitment” to hyperlocal publishers and community news providers, as part of a bid to strengthen the connection between the BBC and local media.

It was announced in April that the BBC would set up a content-sharing deal with the regional press as part of its Local Live web feed, which will be rolled out across England by the middle of 2016, and is already being trialled in areas including Yorkshire and the North-East.

Regional newspaper editors had long campaigned for the BBC to accredit local newspapers when it uses their stories.

Now the  corporation is planning to extend the arrangement by introducing external links to hyperlocals and bloggers “to ensure their content is showcased and credited on the BBC website”.

The BBC also wants more representation from hyperlocal publishers on a Local JournalismWorking Group, which was set up last year and includes representatives from regional newspaper groups and academics, and to include them in training programmes.

David Holdsworth, controller of BBC English Regions, said: “The BBC highly values its relationship with all contributors to local journalism.

“Hyperlocal bloggers provide a unique view of their communities and have a close relationship with their audiences, operating in a space not served by the BBC.

“The input of hyperlocal organisations to forums such as the BBC’s Local Journalism Working Group has proved invaluable in building a broader and more inclusive picture of the media landscape across the country.

“I’m now calling on hyperlocals to comment on these proposals so we can continue building our partnership and ensure their strongest stories can be showcased on the BBC website.”

David discussed the proposals with Midlands-based hyperlocal publishers yesterday and a consultation will run until 30 September.

There are thought to be around 408 hyperlocal news sites based on a study last year and the BBC aims to promote an updated list of these.

Dave Harte, senior lecturer in Media and Communication at Birmingham City University and publisher of a hyperlocal blog for Bournville, said: “It has been clear from the research that myself and others have undertaken over the last few years that the hyperlocal sector in the UK is making a significant contribution to the local news landscape.

“There are plenty of examples of hyperlocal journalism doing an excellent job of keeping citizens informed and holding local power to account.

“As the sector matures and tests new ways to become sustainable, it’s right that the BBC should support it through this initiative and recognise the value it creates for citizens.”

For details on how to respond to the consultation, click here.