The Bureau Local is a collaborative investigations network dedicated to local public-interest journalism, is one of the most innovative initiatives in the UK media and arguably ahead of the curve worldwide.
This is a Panama Papers-style investigation team, but instead of collaborating with an international consortium of journalists, the Bureau Local is focused just in the UK and collaborating with local journalists, experts and citizens.
At a time when investment in local investigative journalism is falling, the unit was conceived as a way to help the industry by providing open data/resources on a local level, strong investigative leads and collaborative project management to support those who want to participate in holding power to account.
The small team of six left their jobs – at The Times, Trinity Mirror/Reach and Greenpeace – to fight for the future of the UK news media. Together, they built a model that put their values at the centre and for the past two years never stopped short of their fight for public interest journalism in the UK. The team also includes a first-of-its-kind job in UK-wide journalism, a community organiser – to facilitate the Bureau Local network and build communities around their journalism.
With its members, they have published almost 350 exclusive local stories and over 100 exclusive national stories in just two years covering domestic violence provision, racial profiling at immigration checks, homeless deaths and local council spending and cuts.
The network now consists of over 1000 members, who are engaged through regular open newsrooms, collaborative reporting days and on Slack around specific investigations.
The team joins forces on investigations with the aim of strengthening our information ecosystem, holding power to account at both a local and national level and telling stories that matter to communities. They focus on mobilising people around their journalism and ensuring they report with, not just on, the communities they cover.
With each investigation, they make relevant information and datasets/evidence accessible to everyone in the network and help members find out how issues play out in their area. As reporting takes place across the country, they then connect the dots to create a national picture.
Their collective reporting method produces broader and deeper investigations than would be possible by any individual newsroom, allowing us to shine a light on systemic issues and hold those in power to account. The combined local and national focus increases the impact of the story through community mobilisation, increased visibility and action that sparks change.