Reporting on local government has received a boost in the north with the appointment of a journalist in a new scheme aimed to boost citizens' connections with democracy.

Journalist Susan Botting is under way as Northland's Local Democracy Reporter with the position created in a partnership between the Newspaper Publishers' Association, RNZ and NZ On Air.

Northern Advocate editor Rachel Ward said NZME and the Northern Advocate were proud to be part of the Local Democracy Reporter project.

"Journalism is at the forefront of democracy and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to get to the heart of what is happening within our publicly funded organisations.


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"This is important work that informs people in our communities what is happening and what it means for them."

Botting is an experienced journalist who has lived in Northland for more than 30 years and knows the things that matter to the people in the region.

"It's great to be able to contribute to Northlanders' understanding of their local democracy," Botting said.

Local democracy reporter Susan Botting. Photo / John Stone
Local democracy reporter Susan Botting. Photo / John Stone

"Local government is a key player in the region's economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing."

The $1 million pilot scheme has been funded through the $6m Radio NZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund announced by the Government in Budget 2018.

The scheme was aimed at strengthening public interest reporting. The pilot is modelled on a successful project in the UK launched by the BBC in collaboration with British publishers.

Botting will be based out of the Northern Advocate newsroom covering the Kaipara District Council, Whangārei District Council, Far North District Council, Northland Regional Council and Northland District Health Board.


Work produced under the scheme will be shared with participating media through the project and appear on multiple platforms, including the Northern Advocate's online and print publications.