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October 23, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:29am

BBC Local Democracy Reporter scheme opened up to BAME publications

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC-funded local democracy reporting service has been opened up to news platforms aimed at black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK to help its journalism reach a wider audience.

BAME-targeted publications like The Voice newspaper or Gal-dem magazine can now apply to access the Local News Partnership, which allows its partners to use public service journalism from the BBC’s 150 local democracy reporters based at local news titles across the UK.

The partnership also includes the news hub, which gives local news websites access to BBC video news content, and the shared data unit, which trains journalists seconded from partner organisations and produces data-led stories.

Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Nations and Regions, said: “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.”

Any BAME organisations that sign up will join more than 900 approved local news outlets already on board since the Local News Partnership was created in 2017 between the BBC and the News Media Association.

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Since then, more than 100,000 LDR stories have been filed on bodies such as councils and NHS trusts, while almost 800 data stories have been produced for partner newsrooms.

NMA chairman Jeremy Clifford 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.”

The change comes as the BBC has announced several steps towards increasing representation within its own walls.

It has met its target of having 15 per cent BAME staff across the BBC ahead of its 2020 target, while BAME staff in leadership roles are at 11.5 per cent, with a 15 per cent target for 2020 to meet.

Broadcaster June Sarpong will lead the drive as director of creative diversity, working closely with a new head of workforce diversity and inclusion to help ensure the corporation is a “modern and diverse workplace”.

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