BBC local democracy reporters scheme expansion hinted

The BBC’s Director General Tim Davie hinted they would support an expansion of the local democracy reporters scheme in a speech at its annual conference, saying he has "always believed that the BBC should find ways to support a healthy local media ecology".

BBC local democracy reporters scheme expansion hinted

“I know that it’s so often what communities rely on most," said Tim Davie.

“But it’s important to remind ourselves of the reason why the BBC is in a position to offer the support we do.

“It’s because of the way we are funded, by everyone, through the Licence Fee.

“The BBC staff here will be sick of hearing it, but it’s absolutely been my mantra since starting as DG: the BBC must be totally focused on offering great value to everyone - whoever and wherever they are.

“And a big part of that is helping to uphold local democracy, and protect the interests of local communities right across the UK.

“It’s also because of the Licence Fee that we have been able to commit to the Local Democracy Reporting Service in the long term - even in a period when we have faced our own serious financial pressures.

“Because we have the certainty of that funding model in place until the end of our current Royal Charter, we can pass that certainty on - with a commitment to back this scheme through to 2027.”

He added: "It’s less than four years since the very first Local Democracy Reporter filed her first story for the Kent Messenger Group. Since then, you have created nearly a quarter of a million stories. There are now 165 Local Democracy Reporter posts across the UK. And we reckon that between 8m and 10m people now read, watch, or hear your stories each week."

He said it’s “even become a template for other countries to follow,” citing New Zealand which “now has 20 Local Democracy Reporters” and Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative which “employs around 150.”

He added: “When we talk about the 250,000 stories that you have written in that time, we’re talking about important stories… Stories that really matter in people’s day-to-day lives...Stories that might not otherwise have been told.”

Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.