Regional 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.