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02 July 2020

Review: Local News Partnership ‘A Great Success’ Which Delivers ‘Real Value’

The Local News Partnership between the News Media Association and the BBC has been “a great success” which delivers “real value” for audiences across the UK in the form of local public interest journalism, a review of the scheme has found.  

The review, carried out by Peter Johnston, Northern Ireland director, BBC, said that the success of the LNP was down to the “huge amount of effort” from the BBC, NMA and the local news industry which “has only underlined the importance of the ‘P’ in LNP – partnership.”

NMA chief executive David Newell said: “The LNP is a resounding testament to the real value that can be delivered through partnership, collaboration and creative thinking. We now look forward to building upon the LNP’s achievements to date.”  

Among the key recommendations for the scheme, which is enshrined in the BBC Royal Charter and will run until 31 December 2027 with an annual BBC commitment of £8 million, was for the BBC and NMA to work closely to explore the implications of expanding the Local Democracy Reporters.   

The number of partners in the LNP - local news organisations - has grown to 138 publishing, on average, over 3,200 individual stories across all print, online and broadcast platforms (excluding social media) produced by the LDRs each week.

The report highlighted some of the “countless” examples of public interest journalism produced by the scheme including stories on the drastic reduction in bus journeys across the UK, police selling part-worn tyres from force vehicles for personal gain, and alarming failures in many criminal background checks.

Usage of the content by the BBC had also increased significantly, the review found, as the BBC had improved efforts to communicate with local teams.

In addition to this, the Shared Data Unit has published 31 data-led investigations which have generated nearly 1,000 stories across all local news partners and received a combined 10.7 million page views on the BBC website.

Highlighting the similar schemes launched in Canada and New Zealand, the review said: “It is worth remembering that there has never been a programme like this anywhere in the world. There was no precedent before it started and no handbook throughout.

“That it is where it is today is the result of hard work, open collaboration and a strong commitment to learning and improving on the go. This has required huge amount of effort across the BBC, the NMA and the wider local news industry to get right, which has only underlined the importance of the ‘P’ in LNP – partnership.”