Investing in local storytellers is vital for the future of news – The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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The fight for the future of news is local.

For the past two and a half years, this has been at the heart of the Bureau Local.

In 2017 we set out to build a people-powered network that would set the news agenda and spark change from the ground up.

We began working with other reporters and citizens on local-to-national collaborations, sharing localised data, publishing findings across the UK and mobilising our collaborators to share and act on the work.

While this work was needed, valued and has provided effective impact at scale, we quickly realised that the sector was haemorrhaging money and losing reporters fast.

We set out to make sure that a portion of the money we fundraised would make it back into the hands of local reporters.

In 2018 we launched our Local Story Fund and awarded local storytellers with roughly 1,000 per project to pursue important local stories. We also provided editorial, data and production support to publish these stories with us and local and national partners.

The result was a profound example of just why local news matters and why we need to invest in it. The reporting shone a light on the realities of underreported communities, held local politicians and companies to account and even changed local policies.

Heres a recap of the great work that came out of our Local Story Fund

Emily Goddard investigated the rise of youth homelessness in Milton Keynes. She was shocked to find that in 2018 a third of its rough-sleeping population was under 25, which is four times higher than the national average.

She worked with a photographer Alex Sturrock and interviewed and photographed some of the young people trying to make it on the streets. This includes James*, who became homeless at the age of 16, and Kane*, 22, who had been homeless for five years and lived in a tent in the underpass. In a chilling conversation, he said, In this place, the only thing that grows quickly and properly is darkness.

Following the story, the council sent Emily a press release saying they had housed several people who had been sleeping rough; and for a short while after she noticed a reduction in the number of tents. Yet a year on, a large number of tents are pitched in the centre once again.

Alexs photographs brought the dark reality of the Milton Keynes tent city into focus. One that particularly struck us was a snap of a food-delivery robot passing by homeless tents. Were proud to say that our initial collaboration has led us to commission him to photograph many other projects, including an important story in Oxford.

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Investing in local storytellers is vital for the future of news - The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

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February 17th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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