BBC local reporters scheme: update for hyperlocal publishers

By Emma Meese | 12th May 2016

The BBC’s deal to fund 150 local news reporters is open to hyperlocal journalists as well as traditional press.

We can confirm that whilst conversations have been had between the BBC and the News Media Association (NMA) we have also been working behind the scenes to ensure as many local news providers as possible have a chance to bid for this money.

The BBC Local Accountability Reporter scheme is open to ‘reputable local news providers’, which includes independent local publications. The term has been kept as broad as possible to ensure the opportunity is not limited to mainstream newspaper staff, despite reports to the contrary.

David Holdsworth, Controller of BBC English Regions, says:

“The BBC is committed to making sure these measures benefit the local news sector as widely as possible. We will need to agree qualifying criteria which meet fair trading guidelines and will determine which news publishers are eligible to employ reporters or receive BBC content. Our ambition is that any publisher – large or small – that meets those criteria is potentially eligible. We have been talking to small scale news publishers from the very start of this process and we will continue to involve them as the fine details of all these measures are worked through.”

In principle there will be a fleet of 150 reporters funded by the license fee but employed by other local news providers. They are mainly for covering council meetings, and will provide a multimedia feed of local stories.

Any quality local news providers who cover a reasonable scale, which has yet to be defined but would exclude small suburbs, can apply for the funding to employ an individual to cover council meetings for their area. Court reporting was originally included in this scheme but has since been removed.

Qualifying local news providers will be able to bid for the money and we are working with the BBC on the criteria which will allow journalists to qualify.

These plans form part of the new BBC charter, which will come into force early in 2017. Following our ongoing conversations with the BBC , it recognises that it is important that independent community news providers also benefit from its’ plans under the new charter.

The government is expected to publish its white paper, outlining the future of the BBC, on Thursday. This will lead the way for a new Charter.

Soon after the publication of the white paper we are expecting to be provided with a draft job description for the BBC’s Local Accountability Reporter scheme. As soon as we have this job description we will consult with you and feed back your comments to the BBC.

Plans are also underway to launch a News Bank, where local video and audio news content broadcast on the BBC will be available almost immediately to all local news providers involved in the scheme.

The video content will be high web resolution and can be shared on other local news websites.

If you have any questions regarding these plans please contact Emma Meese

Homepage image accompanying this article is copyright Peter Daniel.

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