“BBC commits £8m for 150 local democracy reporters to cover council meetings”

Well, the need for a BBC-paid journalist to work for a newspaper that already has “a previous track record of public service journalism” should knock out the odd newspaper group in our area! Perhaps there should be a further qualification that the newspapers should receive less than 50% of that area’s council advertising budget too! And a shame that they won’t be allowed to attend Local Enterprise Partnership board meetings which are held in secret.

“The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is to fund 150 news reporters to cover council and public meetings across the UK to enable better scrutiny of council proceedings and decisions.

The journalists will work for “qualifying” regional publishers rather than the BBC, with the remit of covering full council and committee meetings, and will share the information gained with the BBC. To qualify, local news organisations will need to demonstrate that they have a “previous track record” of public service journalism, as well as the ability to employ staff.

James Harding, director of BBC News and Current Affairs, said: “As more power is devolved across the UK, it’s more important than ever that we cover, understand and hold to account local politicians and public services,” he said.

The initiative forms part of the BBC’s new charter which commences this year and is aimed at filling the growing gaps in local news reporting as local newspapers have suffered from declining revenues.

So far, the BBC has allocated 20 reporters in Scotland, three in Northern Ireland, 11 in Wales and 104 in England, with plans to place the full 150 journalists by 2018.”