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PIJI welcomes regional newspapers inquiry report

March 24, 2022

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The Public Interest Journalism Initiative welcomes The Future of Regional Newspapers in a Digital World report, which was today presented to the speaker of the House of Representatives.

A number of PIJI’s recommendations were incorporated in the final report by the Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts, including a tax rebate for public interest journalism.

Financial modeling in PIJI’s investigation shows that a 50 per cent (the highest level assessed) R&D-style tax rebate could inject up to $711 million into the sector, at a cost of $375 million to taxpayers.

A number of the other recommendations seek to extend work already undertaken by PIJI, through our Australian Newsroom Mapping Project, an ongoing project that maps local news producers and changes to news production and availability, with broadcast data to be added soon.

PIJI’s expertise in this area is reflected in the 54 references to the organisation or its work in the Inquiry’s report.

“We are conducting world-first research that is needed to underpin any policy measures to secure the future of public interest journalism in this country – a key tenet of our democracy and its transparency,” says PIJI CEO Anna Draffin.

The Committee has identified several clear areas of work that PIJI is already delivering via staged release, including:

  • The creation and maintenance of a national, publicly available register of regional news providers (both print and digital)
  • Development of core longitudinal data over a 10-year period

PIJI also supports other recommendations in the Inquiry’s report, including plans for The Australian Communications and Media Authority to assess media diversity and a targeted grants program.

“Thanks to our hugely dedicated team, PIJI’s work has informed the development of much-needed policy interventions as can be clearly seen in the recommendations of this report” says Draffin.

“Funding PIJI as an independent data centre would be a cost-effective and time-efficient solution for government, without any break in delivery”.

“PIJI in the meantime will continue to provide the crucial data, qualitative analysis and insight needed to determine fit-for-purpose policy that will ensure the viability of public interest journalism into the future.”

PIJI will be releasing its Federal Election Position Paper 2022 this Friday 25 March.

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