The BBC’s pioneering local news partnerships will now be open to news platforms aimed at ethnic minority audiences as well as news organisations that serve specific geographical areas.
The news partnership scheme has previously only been open to news organisations that serve specific geographical areas but now the eligibility requirement has been changed so outlets aimed at a BAME audience are included too.
The change has been agreed by the BBC and its lead partner the News Media Association, which represents the local news industry.
Local News Partnerships see the BBC fund local, public interest journalism across the UK. It includes the Local Democracy Reporting Service, which sees 150 journalists reporting on the work of public bodies such as councils. Their journalism is then made available to the BBC and its partners to use.
Currently there more than 900 approved local news outlets signed up to the partnership – ranging from hyperlocal websites to established regional newspapers. Now BAME publications – print, online, radio or TV – can apply to be a partner, meaning they will have access to the journalism produced by the Local Democracy Reporting Service and other benefits of being a partner.
The BBC hopes the move will support BAME journalism and ensure important public service news reaches a wider audience.
Ken MacQuarrie, Director of BBC Nations and Regions, says: “This change means media outlets that serve BAME communities, wherever they are located, can have access to our local news partnership. For them, it’s an exciting opportunity to receive a wealth of great local journalism. For us, it is the chance to ensure our journalism is seen by more people and to support a broader range of news platforms. We wanted to widen participation in our partnerships, so this change achieves that while maintaining the principal aims of the partnerships.”
The 150 reporters in the Local Democracy Reporting Service report on public bodies such as councils, the NHS Trusts and police commissioners. Their roles are funded by the BBC but they are managed and employed by local news outlets. To date, the reporters have filed more than 100,000 stories, which are made available to everyone in the partnerships including the BBC. In a sample week, Local Democracy Reporters generated 3,500 local news stories across print, online, TV and radio.
The Local News Partnership also includes the Shared Data Unit and the News Hub.
The Shared Data Unit is made up of BBC staff and journalists seconded from partner news outlets. The reporters are given training by the BBC and help produce data-led stories. The unit has generated nearly 800 stories for partner newsrooms. The News Hub gives local news websites access to BBC video news content.
The Local News Partnership is run with the News Media Association. Jeremy Clifford, chair of the News Media Association, said: “We were very happy to work with the BBC to find new ways of extending the partnership to open the first class content supply to news outlets representing BAME groups. The more inclusive the partnership, the wider the reach of the content.”