The Bureau Local: Helping local news have more impact

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UNITED KINGDOM | PROJECT TYPE: LARGE | THE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

"Megan Lucero, director of the Bureau Local, felt that local voices have been losing their ability to make an impact: “We’re not hearing stories on the ground. Issues were not being raised at a national level.”

“It came down to a wider identity crisis for news,” Megan believes, “And local journalism has taken a particular hit.”

The Bureau Local was created by journalists to invigorate local news. It’s a massive news collective of more than 700 members across locations, ultimately supported by The Google DNI Fund.

“The DNI Fund backed our ambition to bring together this collaborative network and enable the kind of data crunching that we wanted to do.”

The funding made it possible for the Bureau Local team to create a set of tools which regional and national news reporters could utilise to work with data sets. This ranged from open access ‘recipes’ for story treatments to insights in approaches. This data driven approach meant journalists were empowered to shine a light on previously unearthed issues. The Bureau Local’s network also made it possible to connect non-traditional agents such as civic-minded citizens and hyperlocal bloggers into the wider news ecosystem .

“There was powerful reporting happening all around the country,” says Megan of their vision. “What would happen if we connected all that together?”

We’re not hearing stories on the ground. Issues were not being raised at a national level

Megan Lucero
Director at The Bureau Local

The Bureau Local is the solution to people feeling disconnected and unempowered.

Megan Lucero
Director at The Bureau Local

In October 2017, The Bureau Local broke its biggest story to date. A member of the network noticed a report on funding cuts to a Sunderland women’s refuge, which closed as a result. The Bureau Local sent out a call through its network: Where else was this happening?  

Members dug into council, police and refuge data across the UK and revealed that funding for women’s refuges was being cut across the nation. Some of the most crucial refuges were receiving no funding at all, and women in crisis were being turned away.

The Bureau Local collected more local stories than ever before for this investigation. It was featured on Channel 4 News and set a parliamentary agenda, with leaders calling for accountability and a push for statutory requirements to funding.

Hailed as “one of the most positive and effective interventions in local journalism in the UK for some time” by the LSE Truth, Trust and Technology Commission, the Bureau Local has already won a range of awards – including innovation prizes at both the British Journalism Awards (2017) and the European Press Prize (2018).

The reach of the collective is still growing. With exclusive reportage on the national homeless crisis, immigration spot checks and rise in domestic violence, the Bureau Local continues to break powerful stories from lesser-heard voices.

Find out more about The Bureau Local and their work here

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