The BBC has announced plans to roll out an improved method for linking to the best stories provided by local newspapers across the country, from BBC website Local Live streams.
This follows successful pilots in West Yorkshire and the North East where local newspapers send a link to their strongest stories, which then feature on the BBC News website.
The announcement is part of a BBC commitment to contribute to a healthy local journalism sector. A working party made up of representatives of many local news organisations have discussed a number of cross-industry initiatives over the last nine months. A national rollout will now take place region by region starting in Birmingham, with the aim of having the new system up and running across England by the middle of 2016.
BBC Local Live streams provide short form updates and will now incorporate local press and ‘hyperlocal’ links into a feed allowing users to choose onward online journeys to external media, original BBC journalism and user-generated content. In the pilot areas up to a quarter of the daily news content on the BBC’s Local Live streams are curated links to other local news providers.
By enabling publishers to freely choose the links they want to promote on the BBC and using clear branding this approach is enabling audiences to find the best local stories and point BBC users to external news sites.
Controller of BBC English Regions David Holdsworth says: “Both audiences and local newspapers should benefit from this improved linking. Now a wider choice of material will be available across England from not only inside, but outside the BBC – with the best external stories selected by the papers themselves.
“Local newspapers serve audiences across England and publish thousands more stories than the BBC every week. It is natural and healthy that journalists want to compete for stories, but this an example of a way the BBC can also contribute to a thriving local news market.”
In 2014 the BBC’s Local news websites across England generated an average of 2.5m external link clicks per month, which equates to a click-through rate of around 2.4 percent.
BBC Local news stories account for 45 percent of external link clicks for the BBC News website in the UK and this figure has grown 13 percent year on year.