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11 October 2018

Local Democracy Reporters Generate 30,000 Stories This Year

More than 30,000 stories about local public institutions have been generated since January by Local Democracy Reporters, a key plank of the News Media Association and BBC’s ground-breaking Local News Partnership.

Johnston Press editor in chief Jeremy Clifford and the BBC’s Jason Gibbins, LNP assistant editor, presented an update to hundreds of local and central government communicators at the LGcomms Public Service Communications Academy in Birmingham.

Up to 300 stories written by LDRs are shared each day, the audience heard, and more than 30,000 stories about local public institutions have been generated by LDRs since January.

Examples of the stories, used by the BBC and participating local media outlets, include revelations about the cladding at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, the county council in Leicestershire handing back unspent funds to housebuilders , pothole compensation payments in Hampshire, and youth centre closures in Somerset

In the presentation, Jeremy and Jason highlighted local media’s growing audiences across print and digital, and the increased demand for local news and information in communities across the UK, although ad revenues for the local media sector remain under pressure.

Jeremy who chairs an NMA advisory group on the partnerships, said: “Local news brands perform a unique and vital role in holding public institutions to account on behalf of their readers. Through the NMA/BBC Local News Partnership this important work, which underpins democracy, can be augmented and strengthened.”

Jason added: “The partnership has generated a wealth of coverage of important local issues since its inception. Working with our partners in the local media sector, we are able to ensure that this important public service journalism has as wide an audience as possible across both BBC and local media platforms.”

The partnership, which represents an investment by the BBC of £80 million over 10 years, was agreed two years ago by the NMA, BBC and the Government to boost and enhance local media’s reporting of local authorities and councils.

The agreement includes the recruitment of 150 Local Democracy Reporters, paid for by the BBC but employed by local media, a news hub of BBC video and audio, a shared data journalism unit, and joint content audit of local media content on BBC platforms and vice versa.