The BBC says it wants to expand the local democracy reporting scheme to include courts and NHS Trusts.
The BBC has announced its intention to expand the scheme, run with the regional press, which currently employs 150 journalists across the country to cover local authorities.
The plan would see more council reporters recruited to offer greater coverage of ‘blue light’ public services such as NHS Trusts – with the service also being extended to cover on magistrates’ and sheriffs’ courts.
Under the new plans a standalone, not-for-profit body will run the scheme, allowing it to seek private sector funding from outside the BBC.
The BBC’s director general Tony Hall, pictured, said: “It’s never been more important to invest in local journalism. The 150 reporters we’ve funded through the Local News Partnerships have made a real difference to local communities, giving people the information they need to hold those in power to account.
“Now it’s time to go further. I want businesses and other institutions to join with us so we can get even more reporters into local communities – and give people the local journalism they deserve.”
The BBC says the expansion will only go ahead after consultation with the news industry and when sufficient external funding has been found, with recruitment of a new cohort of local democracy reporters being its first priority.
Last month HTFP reported media outlets aimed at ethnic minorities can now apply to be partners in a BBC scheme, as well as those covering geographic areas.
Ken MacQuarrie, director for BBC Nations and Regions, said: “The Local News Partnership has been a major success. It’s been warmly welcomed by the news industry and even people within local government who have embraced the additional media scrutiny and profile it has led to.
“We have ambitious plans to do even more to support local news in the UK because we believe in local journalism. The extent of the expansion would depend on us securing external funding partners but we think there is an appreciation of the importance of local journalism and the need to support it.”
NMA chief executive David Newell added: “The Local News Partnership has produced clear benefits for local journalism, and it is right for us to now look at how it could be expanded.
“The NMA and local news sector look forward to working closely with the BBC as these plans for expansion progress, building on the successes of the partnership to date.”