MORE than one hundred new reporters are to be employed across Britain to form a "groundbreaking" new talent pool for local news.

Newsquest, which is parent company to the Herald, will employ 37 new journalists to cover council and public meetings across the UK.

The move is part of the BBC's Local News Partnerships to award contracts to an initial 144 full-time and two part-time Local Democracy Reporters across the UK.

The contracts have been allocated to 58 media organisations in England, Scotland and Wales following a competitive bidding process.

Those news organisations -- ranging from a radio station to online media companies and established regional newspaper groups -- will now receive funding from the BBC to cover employment costs of the reporters.

Once recruited, stories written by the democracy reporters will be shared with more than 700 media organisations that have signed up to be part of the Local News Partnerships scheme.

The partnership, which is between the BBC and the News Media Association (NMA) 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.

Ashley Highfield, chair of the News Media Association, said: "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."

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