About Local Democracy Reporting

The Local Democracy Reporting (LDR) programme is a free public-interest news service dedicated to strengthening coverage of local authorities and rūnanga and other similar organisations.

Local democracy reporters are in place in Northland (NZME), South Auckland (Stuff), Waikato (PMN), Rotorua (NZME), Eastern Bay of Plenty (Whakatāne Beacon), Taranaki (Te Korimako o Taranaki), Whanganui (Awa FM), Tairāwhiti (Gisborne Herald), Western Bay of Plenty (Sun Live), Wairarapa (Wairarapa Times-Age), Nelson (Nelson Weekly), Marlborough (Stuff), West Coast (Greymouth Star), Mid Canterbury (Ashburton Guardian), North Canterbury (North Canterbury News).

The reporters are employed by, and report to, their host newsrooms but receive extra mentoring, training and support from RNZ. All of their stories are shared with a wide range of media partners, including RNZ.

The programme is managed by RNZ with the support of the News Publishers’ Association and NZ On Air. It was designed to fill gaps in reporting, mostly in regional New Zealand, brought about by decreases in reporting numbers in traditional media.

How do New Zealand media companies apply to become partners and access the content?

Media wishing to publish or broadcast the stories on their own platforms can sign up any time here.

What about host newsroom funding applications? 

The most recent host newsroom funding application deadline was 23 June 2021. To be notified about future opportunities, please contact LDR Manager David Reid.

What are the LDRs able to cover? 

The LDRs focus exclusively on stories about publicly appointed or elected officials or bodies. This includes but isn’t limited to local councils, council committees, community boards, council-owned commercial enterprises, district health boards, local trusts, and port and airport authorities.

The brief is to report on the decision-making process: what decisions are made in the public’s name and how are they arrived at; what evidence is presented to the councils, etc.

It also means going out and talking to the people affected and sharing their stories and perspectives.

Who runs the LDR programme?

The LDR programme is administered by LDR Manager David Reid, who is based in Wellington, and LDR Editor Conan Young, who is based in Christchurch. It is a partnership between RNZ, the News Publishers’ Association and NZ On Air, and is funded through NZ On Air.

The local democracy reporters report to their host newsrooms. Any story tips, suggestions or other feedback, including complaints, should be directed to the relevant newsroom in the first instance.  

The programme is modelled on a similar one run by the BBC in the UK.