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As they shrink, are local newspapers protecting their “iron core” of local government coverage? This paper says no
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Sept. 8, 2015, 1:43 p.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.theguardian.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   September 8, 2015

After major budget cuts, a revenue model under threat of disruption, and a questioning of its place in a digital world, the BBC is planning an ambitious reorganization that will send staffers and content to local newspapers around the U.K. The proposal creates what BBC director general Tony Hall calls an “open BBC” that will see the broadcaster hire 100 new reporters to work with local newspapers and develop a centralized hub for sharing content and data.

In announcing the new strategy, Hall said: “Our new, open BBC will be a true partner with other organisations. It will also strike a new relationship with audiences that will allow them to do so much more. Our new, open BBC will inform, educate, entertain — and enable.”

The proposal would make collaboration and technology central to the mission of the BBC. The new local reporters would, “provide impartial reporting on councils and public services.” Ideally the legion of new journalists and resources working with community newspapers would boost the output and reach of local stories:

The BBC will also provide easily searchable and local news content with a “News Bank” of regional or local video and audio as well as a hub for data journalism set up in partnership with a university based outside London. The plan is to embed the content on newspaper websites as well as the BBC.

The BBC is already at work on some of those ideas as part of the BBC’s News Labs, where they’ve been focusing on creating tools for collaboration and networked reporting.

The proposal comes as the BBC’s size and mission have come under fire by public officials and the TV-license-fee funding model it relies on has been disrupted.

As a result, layoffs and cutbacks in some services are expected. One option put forward by the BBC is to switch from the license fee system to a model where all households would pay a levy.

But that expansion into local news may come at a cost. The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade writes:

When the BBC’s pool of reporters start sending in their reports and video clips from council meetings, coroners’ courts and so on, publishers will say thank you very much and seize on it as a justification to accelerate the reduction in their own journalistic staffs.

You can read the full report here and find Hall’s full speech on the future of the BBC here.

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