The BBC says recruitment of local democracy reporters is “progressing well” although more than 30 roles have yet to be filled.
The corporation says recruitment for the roles, created as part of a taxpayer-funded scheme run in association with the regional press, “is in line with expectations”.
It comes after Matthew Barraclough, head of BBC Local News Partnerships, admitted in an interview with The Drum that those involved were having to “work harder” to find journalists to fill the 150 positions available at the scheme’s launch.
Matthew, pictured, said an initial 90 reporters were hired “in very short order” but that after this the process “hit a plateau.”
He told The Drum: “Who recently went shopping for 150 senior journalists in one hit?
“Even when [BBC Radio] 5 Live turned on [in 1994] and the BBC created a news-driven radio network, there was never that huge hiring exercise.
Matthew added: “[Journalists] have gone into PR and corporate comms, they haven’t sat around wringing their hands, they have got bills to pay.
“They are not sitting there waiting for us to call. In very short order we hired 90 and then we hit a plateau and we are having to work harder to find those journalists.”
A BBC spokesman told HTFP: “Our suppliers have appointed close to 120 Local Democracy Reporters now. We knew it would be a challenge to recruit so many journalists especially spread right across the country.
“We believe recruitment is progressing well and is in line with our expectations.”
The Local Demorcracy Reporters are being employed by regional publishing groups and some hyperlocal publishers but funded from the BBC licence fee.