John Whittingdale has welcomed an agreement between the News Media Association and the BBC to implement a series of initiatives which will boost local journalism and the “vital role” that local newspapers have in holding authority to account.

Mr Whittingdale said: “Local and regional media plays a vital role in reporting issues that matter to communities and also helps hold local decision-makers to account. 

“Given the challenges the industry is facing, these plans from the BBC and NMA are welcome. They will need to be implemented carefully and in consultation with industry, but will help make sure our local media thrives for years to come.”

The agreement, which will get underway as part of the new BBC Charter in 2017, includes 150 local reporters who will be funded by the BBC and employed by qualifying local news organisations, such as publishers in membership of IPSO, to cover local authorities and public services. The framework created envisages that this number may rise to 200 in 2019.

The proposals, outlined in the White Paper published today, also include setting up a video news bank to allow local news media to access BBC News output for use online, the establishment of a shared data journalism unit, drawing on the model of Trinity Mirror’s operation in Manchester, and a jointly commissioned independent audit to establish the usage of local press content by the BBC which will inform a review of the BBC’s efforts to improve the linking and attribution of stories and sources. more at