The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today opened applications for Australian news businesses wishing to register for the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code (the code). The code has been designed to help support the sustainability of public interest journalism in Australia. "Terrific" I hear you say. That means that all of the little independent newspapers such as the Braidwood Bugle, The Beagle, The Terrier and any of the others who have stepped up to fill the void left by the mega-media might actually gain some coinage to help them stay afloat and even employ more journalists to improve the scope of public interest journalism in Australia. But as we all knew from the outset this was never the intention. The payout to BIG Media by Facebook and Google was all a front. They receive more money, but only chicken feed to the likes of Facebook and Google, on the condition they go away and stop beating, and stop pestering the Government. The Bay Post (owned and published by Australian Community Media who have already received $10.4m under the Public Interest News Gathering Fund in November 2020) was meant to one of the 90 ACM newspapers across regional Australia to share in over $10.4 million of grants designed to help newsrooms continue to tell the stories of their communities despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. At a local level in 2020 ACM closed down the Moruya Examiner newspaper, closed the Batemans Bay and Narooma offices and then, running on a skeleton staff working from home managed to turn two reasonable local papers into slivers of mediocrity that carried cloned articles penned by cadet journalists padding whatever national advertising ACM was running. To add insult to injury both the mastheads even began selling out their front pages to wrap around advertising. Since the November 2020 windfall of $10.4 million to be shared over 90 ACM regional mastheads ($15,000 each) there has been no sign of any improvement and the sudden loss of their local Eurobodalla region editor has further eroded our now non-existent ACM "newsrooms" being able to tell the stories of their communities. The sad thing is that locally ACM offer the excuse for their cloned content, that mostly comes from Bega or Nowra, that it gives their readers an opportunity to learn what is happening in those communities. The Bay Post is expecting a new editor to come on board shortly. Understood to be a seachanger from the corporate world of media it will be interesting to learn what she has in mind for our failing ACM mastheads that are little more than distribution tools for inclusions and brouchures. Joining her will be a final year cadet journalist.
Fortunately fro ACM they will qualify for the spoils of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code To be registered, applicants will have to meet the eligibility requirements set out in the code. The ACMA has published a set of guidelines to help potential applicants determine whether they are eligible to register under the code. News business eligibility
To be eligible to be registered as a news business corporation under the code, the annual revenue of the applicant corporation (or related body corporate) as set out in the corporation’s (or the related body corporate’s) annual accounts, must have exceeded A$150,000 in the most recent year for which there are such accounts, or in 3 of the 5 most recent years for which there are such accounts. This revenue does not need to have been generated by the news business. Well that rules out The Beagle (and most independent pop-up news publishers). So with ACM joining the happy bandwagon of grant funding and now being a beneficiary of the new Facebook and Google code one has to wonder why they would need to continue to publish a full page advert in today's Bay Post saying local media needs YOUR Help to "save our voices". They suggest you contact your Federal Member They suggest you subscribe to their paywall They suggest you advertise claiming to have highly engaged local audiences The very fact that they are still crying poor, after their generous Federal Government grants and now being recipients to Google and Facebook mana from heaven is, because their content remains poor. They do not have the audiences they claim and advertisers have woken up to the fact that they have considerable more bang for their buck elsewhere. The sad thing is that the passionate smaller newspapers who have risen to fill the voids and return quality, inclusive news to their communities have fallen through the gaps. NOTE: There is no need to fear about the Beagle. The financial model of The Beagle does not require Google or Facebook baksheesh. We are, as a community, incredibly fortunate to have terrific local advertisers, sponsors and donors who collectively contribute towards the running costs of a local paper they can proudly call their own. With their windfall and grants I look forward to seeing the Bay Post and Narooma News return one day to the mastheads they were. In the meantime be sure to follow The Beagle, The Braidwood Bugle, and the many others listed under the Australian Independent News Publishers network
Above: How much is enough before you realise the old model is broken?