The BBC together with the News Media Association have proposed a local democracy reporting service made up of 150 reporters employed by local press groups but paid for by the licence fee.
Jeremy is one of the senior industry figures currently working with the BBC to bring the much-vaunted public service reporting project to fruition, two years after it was first mooted at an earlier SoE conference.
Said Jeremy: “We’ve seen a real improvement in our working relationship already. There’s a real desire to see this succeed on both sides.”
“It would be really good if we could send out a message to say we are employing more journalists to cover the county council elections in 2017.”
Leading the project from the BBC side is Matthew Barraclough, editor of the BBC Journalism Working Group.
He too said he hoped the project would “come to life in the first half of next year” and said the BBC had set aside £8m a year to make it happen.
Also involved in the project is David Higgerson, digital publishing director for Trinity Mirror Regionals which is currently running a pilot project with a BBC reporter working out of its Nottingham Post newsroom to carry out civic reporting.
Said David: “We have 150 reporters and 400 councils so one of the things we’ve been working on is how we stretch 150 reporters across the UK.”
Other pilot projects are taking place at Wrexham daily The Leader, and the Shields Gazette in South Shields, which has a BBC Online journalist now based in its newsroom.
Asked by Express & Star editor Keith Harrison where editorial control of the reporters would lie, Jeremy replied that it had been made clear that the publishers carrying out the public service reporting contracts would employ the journalists.