The guardian.co.uk is calling for local bloggers in Leeds to apply for a freelance position to help to cover news in the area, reports Mercedes Bunz in The Digital Content Blog. "Guardian Local is a small-scale experimental approach to local newsgathering. We are focusing on three politically engaged cities and we expect to launch in early 2010," said Emily Bell, the director of digital development at Guardian News & Media.
The news project will initially launch in three cities, Leeds, Cardiff and Edinburgh, and expand if successful. The job description states: "The successful candidate will be a confident blogger, know their yelps from their tweets, have a passion for local news and understand how to build relationships with the local community." Whilst a journalism qualification is desired, it is not required and direction and support will be received from the project's editor at the Guardian's London headquarters.
Sarah Hartley, the Guardian local launch editor said: "While researching developments at the grassroots of community journalism, I've been impressed by the range and depth of coverage from local websites and blogs. This experimental project reflects both the shifting nature of journalism and the reality on the ground."
The selected blogger will be required to report on community meetings and events and give special attention to regional politics and issues of importance to local residents.
With applications closing in early November, the project is expected to officially kick off next year.
The announcement comes amidst concern over the survival of suffering local news industries and various suggestions as to how it might be conserved. Last week local news/blog aggregator program, Fwix, launched in 12 UK cities and several non-profit ventures have been founded in the US, including the Voice of San Diego, Bay Area News Project and the soon to be launched Texas Tribune.
The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger has previously talked about the importance of preserving local news sources, as providing a watchdog against corruption: "It makes me worry about all of those public authorities and courts which will in future operate without any kind of systematic public scrutiny. I don't think our legislators have begun to wake up to this imminent problem as we face the collapse of the infrastructure of local news in the press and broadcasting."
"This bit of journalism is going to have to be done by somebody," Rusbridger stressed. So why not a blogger from Leeds?