The lack of reporting on local court matters in Britain is being addressed by the BBC, which plans to expand its ‘local democracy’ reporting service.
The broadcasting corporation is to recruit journalists to expand coverage of local councils, magistrates’ courts and sheriffs’ courts, to support public-interest journalism.
The scheme, named the Local News Partnership, is a standalone non-profit body and needs external funding to fund 150 reporters, a shared data unit, and a news content hub.
BBC Director General Tony Hall said: “It’s never been more important to invest in local journalism.
“The 150 reporters we’ve funded through the Local News Partnerships have made a real difference to local communities, giving people the information they need to hold those in power to account.
“Now it’s time to go further. I want businesses and other institutions to join with us so we can get even more reporters into local communities – and give people the local journalism they deserve.”
Ken MacQuarrie, director at BBC Nations and Regions, added: “We have ambitious plans to do even more to support local news in the UK because we believe in local journalism.
“The extent of the expansion would depend on us securing external funding partners but we think there is an appreciation of the importance of local journalism and the need to support it.”
The Local News Partnership now links to 900 local news outlets and reporters have written 100,000 stories.
In one week, local democracy reporters files 3,500 local-news stories across print, online, TV and radio.
The News Media Association was created in 2014 after a merger between the Newspaper Society (covering the regional press) and the Newspaper Publishers Association (covering national newspapers).
NMA chief executive David Newell said: “The Local News Partnership has produced clear benefits for local journalism, and it is right for us to now look at how it could be expanded.”