Local democracy is firmly in spotlight

Ashley Highfield
Ashley Highfield

New reporters are being recruited to cover local councils across the North West.

The BBC’s Local News Partnerships scheme will eventually see 150 news reporters hired across Britain, to report on local democracy and cover council meetings. That includes 19 reporters across the North West.

Fifty-eight organisations, including the Wigan Post and Wigan Observer’s parent company Johnston Press, successfully bid for funding through the £8m scheme.

Once recruited, stories written by the democracy reporters will be shared with more than 700 media organisations that have signed up to be part of the scheme.

Ashley Highfield, chairman of the News Media Association, said: “The ground-breaking Local News Partnership between the NMA and the BBC is now becoming a reality which will benefit the BBC, local media and, most importantly, local communities.

“The initiative has moved the whole relationship between the BBC and the local media sector from confrontation to collaboration, and key benefits will include 150 new journalists on the ground holding public institutions to account on behalf of their readers.

“Managed by local media and funded by BBC, the Local Democracy Reporters are just a part of a slew of collaborative initiatives that will see local media get access to BBC’s local video and data journalism.”

BBC controller David Holdsworth said it was “a major advance to significantly improve the reporting on councils and public institutions.”