Gippsland MP Darren Chester has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that the release of $5 million from its Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund has been brought forward to support public interest journalism during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Chester said the multi-year $48 million Innovation Fund, is part of the Government’s Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package, designed to boost sustainability and the ongoing production of news in the modern media environment.
“The fund has been enhanced with more organisations eligible to apply and a greater emphasis on sustainability,” Mr Chester said.
“This round will be open to regional and metropolitan publishers and content service providers producing public interest journalism.”
Mr Chester said following extensive consultation, the Minister has adjusted the fund so that money is available as quickly as possible to help publishers keep journalists in jobs and local communities informed.
“Many media organisations, particularly those in regional areas like Gippsland, are facing significant financial strain due to the community’s necessary response to coronavirus,” Mr Chester said.
“Sadly, we’ve seen both the Yarram Standard and its sister paper The Great Southern Star both close their doors until further notice due to the coronavirus.
“In East Gippsland, the Bairnsdale Advertiser now incorporates the East Gippsland News and is now published weekly instead of bi-weekly and the Snowy River Mail and the Lakes Post have been combined into the one physical newspaper.
“Both the Gippsland Times and the Latrobe Valley Express have made changes to their staffing arrangements.
“As we face these unprecedented challenges together, the media’s role in producing quality news and providing Australians with timely and accurate information is crucial. This provides critical support at a time its needed most.”
Time frames will be significantly shorter than normal, in view of the urgent need facing many regional and small publishers.
The fund is a competitive grants program independently administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
More information on how to apply is available at www.acma.gov.au