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Journalism Foundation will help local blogs hold councils to account

In reporting on Stoke on Trent City Council I have found the lively but non partisan blog/news site called Pits n Pots to be a useful source of information.

Now the site has been given some money by the Journalism Foundation. This is a new charity backed by Alexander Lebedev who owns The Independent and the Evening Standard. It will also back projects abroad.

Mike Rawlins, the editor of Pits n Pots, says:

The support of the foundation will allow me to do three things. First, I am hoping to investigate ways for Pits n Pots to become a more sustainable public service business model while improving the awareness and reach of the site. Second, I will be looking to find ways to promote better democratic, popular engagement across sections of the population who have not traditionally been engaged with democracy. Finally, I will hope to use The Journalism Foundation’s support to create a template that can be used by active democratically engaged people across the country.

Over the coming months I will report on the successes and, I should imagine, almost inevitable failures, as I try a range of different approaches to improve democratic engagement in my area.

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it does it make a sound? The Government are enforcing higher standards of transparency on local government - not least in how they spend our money. But for the accountability to work there must be people ability and inclination to wade through the material and question anything that seems questionable. In some councils there are few, if any, opposition councillors. A vibrant local blogosphere is key. Nobody will take up the activity to get rich but the odd bit of funding to promote them is welcome.


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