BBC plans to launch charity to fund local news reporting

Simon Austin's picture

The BBC is proposing to launch a new charity in conjunction with tech companies that will fund local news reporting across Britain.

The new organisation is to be called the Local Democracy Foundation and is an acknowledgement that many commercial outlets are no longer willing to pay for regional public interest journalism.

It will pay for local journalists to report on council meetings, while also covering crime stories and other news stories. The registered charity would receive funds from the BBC and internet companies as well as seeking donations from businesses and institutions.

BBC Director General Tony Hall said: “The flow of information we all need to participate in democracy where we live has been drying up.” He said he had held talks with tech companies and the government about the scheme, although he insisted the foundation would be independent of the state.

“My goal is to mobilise a powerful coalition behind the creation of a Local Democracy Foundation,” he will say in a speech at the House of Lords on Wednesday night. “And, together, to do all we can reverse the damage that has been done to local democracy in recent years and bring about a sea change in local public interest journalism.”

Full details of the charity and its financial backers are to be unveiled this summer, according to The Guardian. The proposed foundation will also take over responsibility for the BBC local democracy reporters’ scheme, which costs £8m a year.

All but 10 of the 144 reporters on the scheme have been placed with just three publishers - Reach Plc, Newsquest, and JPI Media.

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