BBC plans Local Democracy Foundation to support community journalism

21 Mar 2019 News

The BBC’s director-general Tony Hall has proposed a dedicated foundation to help support local reporting and journalism.

In his speech at the Lord Speaker Lecture, Hall said: “I have already started a conversation about the possibility of a dedicated foundation - independent of government and others - to support a strong local media landscape and nourish the foundations of local democracy.

“It’s just one idea - there may be more. We will need to discuss with the news industry to find the right approach together. But I think there’s potential to unlock money from a range of businesses and institutions.

“My goal is to mobilise a powerful coalition behind the creation of a Local Democracy Foundation - employing independent reporters to cover what really matters to local communities.

“I want us to do all we can reverse the damage that has been done to local democracy in recent years and bring about a sea change in local public interest journalism.”

The changing landscape for media

Hall set the context for his comments, saying that commercial pressures have badly affected local journalism.

Over the last decade, he said, circulation for local newspapers has halved and titles have merged or folded.

Hall also spoke about the changing landscape for news, with a “more polarised” society and how “the phrase, ‘mainstream media’, is now a term of abuse”.

He also commented on the effect of misinformation, with elections in Nigeria disrupted by fake news stories and edited abduction footage sparking violence in India.

The Lords Communications Committee is looking into the future of public service broadcasting and last month Dame Frances Cairncross published her report on the future of UK media.

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