A scheme by which the BBC is to fund 150 ‘local democracy’ reporters could be up and running by May 2017 it has been announced.
Speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Carlisle, Matthew Barraclough, Editor of the BBC Local Journalism Working Group said that he was that the provisions contained in the BBC White Paper could be trialled in time for the May 2017 Council elections.
The Local Journalism Working Group was set up in 2014 by James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News, to look at ways in which the BBC could work with local and regional media organisations for mutual benefit.
The proposals, published in the White Paper, would see the BBC fund 150 reporters that would be based in regional newsrooms and cover councils and local democracy. The aim of the scheme is to fill what is considered to be a ‘democratic deficit’ in the regions with a lack of resources impacting on the coverage of local authorities.
Barraclough, who is leading the project from the BBC side, said that he hoped the plans will benefit audiences with a growth of content.
He said: “We’re signing up to a joint content audit – an undertaking to find out where the journalism in the BBC is going.
“We’re trying to create a benchmark to see just where the journalism crosses over and what else we can offer.
“The aspiration is that the BBC will see outcomes as soon as possible and even possibly launch some reporters for the Council Elections in May 2017.”