Tony Hall Speaks of Importance of Local News Partnership

Tony Hall has spoken of the importance of the Local News Partnership between the BBC and the News Media Association to strengthening news coverage in local communities and upholding local democracy.

In a speech in Coventry last night, the BBC Director-General spoke of the growing sense of local identity experienced in geographic regions across the UK and the importance of local news as the antidote to fake news. 

Mr Hall said: “There’s never been a more important moment for the kind of independent journalism we stand for. The rise of digital technology has also seen the rise of fake news, not just on a global level but on a local one as well.

“We all get more and more information; but find it harder to know what to trust. We follow global leaders on social media, yet often we don’t know who’s responsible for decisions that affect our daily lives. That’s why your role is actually becoming more important – not less.

“It’s why our political reporters are so necessary. And why we’re investing in 150 new local democracy reporters – another sign of our commitment to partnership and the local news agenda.

“So news will always be at the heart of our thinking. But you’ve also got to think about how you build communities – how you celebrate the exceptional things that people are doing; and how you reflect the conversations they’re having.”

The BBC and the NMA are progressing a groundbreaking partnership to boost local news coverage representing an overall investment of around £8 million per year by the BBC to fund a series of initiatives including 150 local democracy reporters employed by local papers. 

Welcoming the agreement when it was announced last year, NMA chairman Ashley Highfield said of the partnership: “We believe this will strengthen and enhance local journalism, and the crucial role it has in holding local authorities to account, while maintaining the healthy competition between different news sources which is so important in a democracy. 

“More coverage and content from councils will be more widely distributed ensuring greater accountability and transparency in an ever more devolved Britain.”

More than 600 news titles and outlets representing more than 50 media organisations have been approved as partners of the LNP earlier this year. These are those titles that will receive access to video and audio reports from the BBC News Hub, content generated by a Shared Data Unit and content generated by Local Democracy Reporters.  

In his speech yesterday, Mr Hall said that cost saving targets for local radio would be abandoned to allow the BBC to invest in local radio. He added: “We know it’s a tough environment for local media too. The advertising market’s changing beyond all recognition. Everyone – us included – is looking really carefully at costs.”