Bureau of Investigative Journalism relaunches funding scheme to support 'vitally important' local reporting

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism has launched the second round of its grants to support “vitally important” local reporting.

Journalists from across the UK are invited to apply to receive funding for investigations that need additional time, money or resources to be completed.

Meirion Jones, investigations editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, told Press Gazette: “As we all know there’s a desperate shortage of money in local journalism at the moment.

“It’s vitally important to our democracy that we have good local journalism.”

He added: “It might seem a small thing but it might help people to take a step further to get a story over the line that they couldn’t do otherwise.

“Anything we can do that helps local journalism is important for the health of democracy in this country. Local press, local radio and local media are all vitally important.”

The grants are funded by the Open Society Foundation, founded by George Soros, which aims to support local democracies and make them accountable to their citizens.

Jones said: “We’re also trying to help people to tell stories that they couldn’t have done, that they wouldn’t have the time or money to do or that they needed other resources to complete.”

Applications are open to any member of the Bureau Local network, which now has over 750 members, and must cover a topic “that’s not been told or has gone underreported in your community”.

Jones added: “If you are part of a newsroom we want your editor to be involved, we’re not trying to bypass editors in local papers, we want them to be part of it.

“Ideally these stories will be good local stories but we will also give them a platform on our website and if there is a national aspect to it we will find a national partner as well who can publish the story.”

The previous round of funding delivered a total of £8,500 to support the reporting of three stories which were selected for their “local and national significance”.

The three investigations were by Jane Haynes, who looked at the levels of unpaid work and exploitative internships, Emily Goddard and Alex Sturrock who documented youth homelessness Milton Keynes, and Natalie Bloomer and Samir Jeraj investigated homeless hostels in Northampton.

Jones said that the high level of interest in homelessness from applicants was reflected in the grants they gave out.

The first of the reports will be published next week while the other two will go out in July.

You can apply for the local reporting fund here. Applications close on 1 July.

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