Brighton and Hove News to partner with Johnston Press in BBC local democracy reporting project

Posted On 07 Dec 2017 at 11:04 am

Brighton and Hove News will be working in partnership with Johnston Press, the publishers of the Brighton and Hove Independent, to take part in a flagship BBC local democracy reporting project.

Johnston Press has won the contract to employ three new local democracy reporters to cover local authorities across Sussex – including Brighton and Hove.

It will partner with Brighton and Hove News to cover city council meetings and share coverage with other publications which have signed up to become members of the wider partnership, which has been joined by 700 organisations nationally.

The Sussex contract is one of 58 awarded nationally and announced today.

Brighton and Hove News editor Frank le Duc said: “We look forward to working with the Brighton and Hove Independent and Johnston Press as part of the BBC-funded Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“We hope to help keep the public informed about what is being done in their name, with their taxes in the area where they live, work and vote.

“It is more than eight years since Brighton and Hove News started. This partnership will support our website as we continue to share some of what’s happening day in day out with our many thousands of readers.”

Ashley Highfield, chair of the News Media Association and chief executive of Johnston Press – publisher of this title – said: “The ground-breaking Local News Partnership between the NMA and the BBC is now becoming a reality which will benefit the BBC, local media and, most importantly, local communities.

“The initiative has moved the whole relationship between the BBC and the local media sector from confrontation to collaboration, and key benefits will include 150 new journalists on the ground holding public institutions to account on behalf of their readers.

“Managed by local media and funded by BBC, the Local Democracy Reporters are just a part of a slew of collaborative initiatives that will see local media get access to BBC’s local video and data journalism.”

David Holdsworth, Controller of BBC English Regions, said: “This is a major advance in the partnership which will significantly improve the reporting on councils and public institutions, leading to greater public accountability for our local politicians.”

As part of its charter commitment, the BBC is investing up to £8m annually in the Local News Partnerships during the next nine years to the end of the Charter in 2026.

Most of the contracts announced today have gone to the big publishing groups, Trinity Mirror, Newsquest and Johnston Press. Three hyperlocal publishers have won contracts, Hackney Citizen, Manx Radio and the Lincolnshire Reporter.

The landmark partnership between the BBC and the News Media Association also includes a Shared Data Unit, based at BBC Birmingham, and a facility allowing local news providers access to relevant regional BBC video and audio content.

The Shared Data unit will utilise BBC teams and seconded journalists from the wider industry to develop data journalism expertise. The first regional journalists to be seconded started on November 20.

  1. Daniel Hariis Reply

    How do you apply for one of these positions really interested Jo?

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      we are yet to finalise details – but I am pretty confident an NCTJ qualification will be a requirement, including 100wpm shorthand.

  2. Tom Coady Reply

    Is 100wpm shorthand still useful or is it just a way to exclude otherwise competent speech recording equipment users – not to mention machine transcription?

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      This is hotly debated all the time – I personally think it’s still vital for a general reporter – not least as recording equipment is still banned in courts. And I believe that a shorthand note is accepted evidence in court, whereas recordings aren’t as they could have been doctored. Whether or not you agree with the merits of that, that’s the current situation.

      On a practical level, paper and pens don’t run out of batteries, they don’t break down, they don’t stop recording when you receive a text or a phonecall, and they can be used to record something a few seconds or even minutes after it’s been said.

      And workwise, it’s easy to flick through a notebook to find the relevant quote which makes transcribing much, much faster than from a tape.

      It doesn’t take long to learn shorthand – I learnt it in a year on a weekend journalism course, most students doing full time courses take much less time to get to 100wpm. The NCTJ course also teaches you equally essential media law and local and central government, as well as how to write a basic news story.

      As to excluding competent speech recording equipment users – I did once work with a veteran reporter who was the one in the newsroom allowed to use a tape because she had medically-inflicted memory issues which meant she couldn’t remember shorthand – so it’s not a hard and fixed rule.

      • Tom Coady Reply

        Thanks Jo
        What a great reply! Of course I can’t dispute the fact that courts retain an anachronistic attitude to contemporary practice but I’m afraid that this has only served to further discourage reporting what is almost the definition of public interest.

        I could take issue on some of your other points but agree it maybe best just to go with the flow of traditional methods!

        PS you need a comment system that alerts contributors to replies!

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Has anybody published an edition of Hamlet in shorthand? This could be a first.

    Meanwhile, I have always thought that Council meetings should get wider coverage. They can be a hoot. I am asking a Public Question about the Carnegie Library next Thursday (14th) in Hove.

    Back to Hamlet: if anybody in the early seventeenth century had taken down a performance in shorthand, that would be a textual boon.

    Not that I am necessarily likening to Hamlet the regular appearance of cllr Janio’s preamble “I had not intended to speak tonight but I have heard so much rubbish said that…” (by which time the place is in uproar: feet stamping and full-throated whoops). Of course, the end of Council meetings can make Hamlet’s appear veritable diplomacy.

  4. Valerie Paynter Reply

    This is an exciting development which will boost survival of local news reporting about council/national politics/givernance – something democracy almost depends on!

    PS I have a stash of old classic Pitrman shorthand books that a trainee journo might find useful. 100 wpm is quite a high level requirement and even then things can be missed. Some recording as well is wise.

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