Investigating a sustainable future for public interest journalism


May Newsletter

May 23, 2023

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March quarterly data

PIJI’s Australian News Data Report: March 2023 edition is now available, which includes both monthly and quarterly results.

During March, there were 12 changes to the database, including one addition and two removals, as well as one reopening and eight other changes, which occurred across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

As at March 31, the Australian News Index lists 533 businesses which operate 1,179 print, digital, radio and television news outlets. This figure is unchanged from February.

Quarterly findings showed 25 LGAs around the country without any print or digital news outlets – a decrease from the 32 LGAs identified last quarter – and five LGAs in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia without local publishers or radio news outlets, representing no change from the December quarter.

Federal Budget round-up

The 2023 Budget was handed down earlier this month. Here are the sector highlights:

  • The national public service broadcasters – the ABC and SBS – received new five-year funding terms
  • ABC and SBS to receive an additional $72 million over four years to continue three previously terminating programs; ABC Enhanced News Gathering, SBS Media Sector Support and ABC and SBS Audio Description.
  • The ABC to receive $8.5 million over four years to expand its transmission infrastructure in the Pacific under the Indo-Pacific Broadcasting Strategy.
  • $5 million committed to the national newswire, AAP.
  • The VAST satellite service received funding to extend operations until 2030.
  • Funding earmarked for Imparja, the Indigenous-owned not-for-profit broadcaster delivering commercial television services to remote areas across the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to receive $7.9 million to combat online misinformation and disinformation.

Productivity Commission inquiry into philanthropy

You can now read PIJI’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s Review of Philanthropy.

Our submission notes that there is no category for public interest journalism either as a charitable purpose or for tax deductibility purposes, despite its recognition as a public good. Barriers to receiving donations present a significant challenge for the growth of a non-profit news sector in Australia, particularly in local news markets.

This compares with the USA, where non-profit news is now the fastest growing segment of the news market (a segment that includes names like ProPublica). A Pew Research Center report in 2013 found funding sources for these outlets vary, but include philanthropic foundations and the backing of individuals. In 2022, the Pew Research Center found that non-profit journalism is playing an increasing role in covering state politics, with many non-profit outlets focusing specifically on in-depth coverage of state legislature – news that is in the public interest.

News measurement submissions now available

The ACMA has now published submissions to its consultation on the proposed news measurement framework.

In addition to the submission written by PIJI, other organisations who made submissions the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Free TV Australia, the ABC and more.

PIJI’s submission, along with submissions from 22 other organisations, can be downloaded from the ACMA website.

Reuters on press freedom

A new report from Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism reveals legal threats are being used to silence journalists around the world.

Released on World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday 3 May, Weaponizing the Law: Attacks on Press Freedom details the way in which countries use legal means to stifle press freedom, including jailing journalists, criminalising criticism and filing defamation claims. The report provides “the first step towards a global overview of the weaponization of the law as a prominent threat to media freedom”.

PIJI in the news

Industry News

  • Goliath News Corp is wounded but challenges remain.


  • The Walkley Foundation announces “significant changes” to the Walkley Award categories following a review, including the retirement of the ‘Public Service Journalism’ award category.
  • Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) acquires the Augusta-Margaret River Mail and Busselton-Dunsborough Mail newspapers in Western Australia
  • A South Australian newspaper was exposed as providing extensive favourable coverage of a Liberal politician, without disclosing that he helped set up the paper.
  • Southern Cross Austereo axes the last locally produced commercial television news program covering regional South Australia.
  • VICE files for bankruptcy protection in the United States.
  • Sky News breaches industry code with a program on climate science.
  • News startup The Messenger launches with more than 100 journalists.
  • Guardian Australia celebrates 10 years of news.
  • AI chatbots are being used to create content farms.
  • Journalist Cheng Lei marks 1000 days in a Beijing prison.
  • Cost cuts incoming for Nine Entertainment.
  • Another restructure at the ABC will lead to redundancies.
  • Qantas bans the AFR.
  • Dan Stinton calls time at Guardian Australia

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