One of Britain’s biggest media groups is looking for a reporter to cover Greenwich Council after the News Shopper lost its contract to cover the town hall as part of a BBC-funded scheme.
Reach, the company behind the Daily Mirror, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, today takes over the contract to cover Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley councils as part of the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporter Service (LDRS), which supplies stories to outlets including 853.
The Shopper, which scrapped its print editions for Greenwich and Lewisham last year, had left the post vacant since last November, leaving 853 as the only outlet regularly covering Greenwich Council meetings.
Now the Shopper’s American-owned parent company, Newsquest, has lost all its LDRS contracts in London. Reach has taken over the lion’s share of the roles, with reporters transferring to its MyLondon website.
Reach is now recruiting to fill the role the Shopper left vacant for eight months. “We are looking for people who are curious about what’s going on down their street, who want to hold decision-makers to account, who can spot a killer line in a complex story – and who believe journalism works best when read as widely as possible,” the company says.
The reporter will be expected to know Eltham from Erith and Charlton from Chislehurst, as they will also be covering Bexley and Bromley as well – two boroughs which have had no regular civic reporting at all in recent months, despite Bexley facing serious financial problems during this time.
The Kentish Times, the traditional title in those boroughs, has not returned after being “suspended” by its publisher Archant last year, with the Bexley Times and Bromley Times websites deleted at the start of this year.
853 uses stories from the LDRS to supplement its own reporting of Greenwich and to pick up stories from neighbouring boroughs that are of wider interest – from major planning issues to controversial traffic schemes. Lewisham reporter Gráinne Cuffe transfers to MyLondon as part of the contract change.
In London, Reach’s best-known local title is the Croydon Advertiser; its west London papers were closed in 2014 and all are now amalgamated online under the MyLondon banner, which Reach is pumping investment into.
Some of 853’s fellow members of the Independent Community News Network have also picked up contracts to work with the BBC. Social Spider, which publishes the Waltham Forest Echo, Enfield Dispatch, Tottenham Community Press, EC1 Echo and Barnet Post, takes over reporting in Barnet, Enfield and Haringey as well as Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Havering. The Hackney Citizen will continue to cover Hackney, Camden and Islington.
There are 165 local democracy reporter roles across the UK, although London has just 13 journalists – giving it less comprehensive coverage than other major cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. More than 1,000 individual titles or outlets receive stories as part of the scheme.
To apply for the Greenwich reporter position, visit the Reach Careers website by Wednesday 7 July.
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