Eighteen news organisations, including a number of hyperlocal publishers, have succeeded in winning BBC local democracy reporter contracts ahead of the scheme’s expansion.
The BBC has revealed the successful bidders after the contracts were retendered ahead of plans to increase the number of journalists employed under the scheme from 150 to 165.
Archant, Citizen News & Media, JPIMedia, Iliffe Media, London Evening Standard, Newsquest, Radio Manx, Reach plc, Shetland News and Stonebow Media have all retained contracts – although some have changed hands.
The BBC had increased the number of contracts on offer from 68 to 118 in an effort to make it easier for smaller organisations to bid.
Reach remains the largest partner in the scheme after winning 51 contracts to employ 75 reporters in total.
JPIMedia will oversee 24 contracts worth 35.5 roles, while Newsquest has won 23 contracts and will look after 28.5 posts.
The remainder of successful bidders will all look after a single-figure number of contracts.
A full breakdown of how the contracts have been divided can be found here.
A BBC spokesman said: “The result of this process means all local democracy reporting roles will be filled, and every area of the country will be covered
“We have 18 suppliers for this period compared to 10 for the last with, for the first time, a commercial radio station and a local TV station becoming suppliers.
“The partnerships has seen the work of councils and other local public bodies subject to independent, high-quality journalism, holding power to account and scrutinising the decisions of those in authority.”
Chief audience officer David Higgerson, who led Reach’s bid, said: “We are delighted with the faith the Local News Partnership has shown in Reach’s applications to run local democracy reporter contracts, not least because it’s been an even more rigorous application process this year.
“We take this responsibility very seriously, to not only promote the health of local news but also to nurture some of the brightest new journalistic talent across the UK.
“During our time with the scheme over the past three years we’ve worked hard to produce stories which provide great content, not only for us but also for our other publishing partners.
“We believe whole-heartedly in the long-term importance of this scheme, which is why we have invested in additional infrastructure and senior journalists to support it.”
Radio Exe won the contract for Devon from Reach.
Radio Exe’s managing director Paul Nero said: “Radio Exe has always had a strong commitment to high-quality local news provision and we’re thrilled that the BBC has entrusted us with this important journalistic endeavour.
“It’s a thoroughly commendable scheme and we’re proud to be custodians of it in Devon for the next three years.
“We’d also like to thank Reach for the classy way they have begun the handover process and we’ll ensure they receive the kind of excellent content they and the other LDRS partners across Devon deserve.”