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ACMA grants $5 million to support public interest journalism

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has today announced the successful grant recipients of the 2020 Round of the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.

Forty-one small and regional publishers will share in the $5 million available in the 2020 Round to help them address some of the significant challenges facing the news industry.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the funding is a boost for public interest journalism, particularly in regional areas with two-thirds of the available funding being awarded to regional applicants.

“The Innovation Fund has a strong record of helping news publishers improve their sustainability. This new round of funding will support projects that will improve each grantee’s capacity to generate public interest journalism including funding for journalists, staff training, new digital technology and website upgrades,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Successful recipients include:

  • The Trustee for Parkes-Brown Family Trust (Glasshouse Country News—Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland) will receive up to $108,200 to develop a new website and digital content publishing platform to support its production of public interest journalism and increase efficiency in production.

  • North Central Review Pty Ltd (North Central Review—Mitchell Shire, Victoria) will receive up to $119,410 to engage a digital marketing officer and to upgrade its online sales technology and video production equipment to improve its digital and social media presence.

  • Word Count Media Pty Ltd (Pittwater Life magazine, Pittwater NSW) will receive up to $42,768 to engage two specialist freelance journalists to increase public interest journalism output and support its local service delivery.

Of the forty-one successful grant recipients, 16 are from New South Wales, 12 are from Victoria, 6 are from Queensland, 2 are from South Australia, 2 are from the ACT, 2 are from Tasmania and one is from Western Australia.

The ACMA received more than 300 applications for the 2020 Round, almost three times the previous round.

The ACMA carefully assessed each application against eligibility and merit criteria and was assisted by an independent advisory committee appointed by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.

In total, the ACMA has awarded more than $17.6 million under the Innovation Fund since 2018. The government also recently announced that 107 regional publishers and broadcasters will receive a share of $50 million in funding under its Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program.

While applicants could apply for both funds, the ACMA cannot fund the same activities that have been funded under the PING. The ACMA will now work with all successful 2020 Round recipients to negotiate the funding for eligible activities and finalise grant agreements.

The Innovation Fund and the PING are part of the government’s $60.4 million Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package. Alas The Beagle's application was rejected. A simple one for $6000 to enable us to clone the website and develop a How To Manual so that we could make available, for FREE, a fully functioning copy of the Beagle website template to any prospective regional Independent newspapers want to start up and fill the void left by the mega-troglodytes.

We knew we would fail in the application. It was too audacious. Fancy a country filled with financially self sufficient, independent regional papers reporting the facts. Outrageous !

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