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LDR praises scheme after ‘clickbait’ led him to question journalism career

Tom DareA local democracy reporter has praised the scheme’s impact on his career – saying he had encountered “too much clickbait” before taking on his current role.

Tom Dare, left, says he was questioning his decision to become a journalist before getting a job with the service, which sees reporters employed to cover local authorities by regional press groups using funds provided by the BBC.

Tom – who covers the West Midlands Combined Authority for the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Live and the BBC – has written a piece about his time as an LDR after the service celebrated its first anniversary and 50,000th story earlier this month.

In his piece for Birmingham Live marking the anniversary, Tom wrote: “Before I first became a local democracy reporter eight months ago, I was beginning to question my decision to become a journalist.

“I’d only graduated in 2016 but my exposure to the media after that had been very mixed, with too much clickbait and not enough genuine reporting going on.

“I wanted to be covering stories of real importance, that actually affected people and the lives they lived. The Local Democracy Reporting Service was the answer, and I haven’t looked back since.”

After graduating with an MA in investigative journalism from City University in 2016, Tom worked for a variety of titles including the Islington Gazette, Ham & High and Hackney Gazette in North London and Essex Live in Chelmsford.

He moved to the West Midlands in July 2017 to take up a role with press agency Media Drum World and took up his current position in May last year.

He added: “Councillors and officers still seem shocked today when I show up to cover a meeting, but I’m very often welcomed by the chairperson of whatever board is being held that day

“For the most part members of the WMCA seem happy to finally be getting some coverage from the media, and this has helped me in fulfilling my role so far.

“My own personal favourite of the stories I’ve worked on so far was an in-depth look at the impact of council cuts on the striking Birmingham home care workers, many of whom will struggle to pay their mortgages if cuts to hours go ahead.

“Whatever it is, what’s struck me most about the job so far is the passion of the people involved in these stories, and their appreciation at finally being listened to over the issues that really matter to them.”


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  • January 29, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I’m chuffed for this chap and I’m glad he’s enjoying his job.
    But aren’t stories like this just what local/regional papers have always done?
    I think I’m just jaded as I’m not sure why taxpayers should prop up slash and burn companies which have laid off reporting staff.
    As far as I’m aware most still make a profit and we’re helping them make more newsroom cuts – as they know they can plug gaps with licence fee-funded ‘LDRs’.

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  • January 29, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Totally agree, Hackattack.No idea why these compnaies are being constantly propped up. Reach celebrated figures last week but how much success is down to them being able to slashing staff costs with the addition of these BBC reporters. Facebook will be also helping them out soon too.

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  • January 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

    “with too much clickbait and not enough genuine reporting going on.”
    Now we have it direct from one of the younger generation about the general state of journalism.
    Glad he enjoys his licence-funded job. But I haven’t seen one hard-hitting incisive report from my our local democracy reporter, just rather tepid meting reports and some obvious press release material. Get stuck in boys and girls.

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  • January 29, 2019 at 10:33 am

    I’m delighted that one of my former students is clearly enjoying his journalistic work. But I agree with the criticisms about the scheme by Hackattack and Hyperactive. Then again, here’s a counter-intuitive vision: regional publishers go on laying off staff; the number of BBC (ie licence fee payer) funded journalists increases; BBC supplants publishers as the major news-gatherer at local level; the people (that’s politicians/citizens) realise the value of the cohort of LDRs serving communities across Britain; publishers are forced out in favour of Britain’s public service broadcaster. So, bring on the LDRs, bring on the BBC, bring on the termination of profiteering publishers.

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  • January 29, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Wonderful irony of someone at one of Reach’s Live sites complaining about clickbait elsewhere…

    Also no surprise to see Greenslade looking forward to more job losses in the industry after his unrestrained glee at dozens of Scottish journalists losing their job a few years back.

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