Australian Newsroom Mapping Project:
Local news producers

The second stage in PIJI’s Australian Newsroom Mapping Project is a database of written local news producers: those that engage in journalism to report on council, courts, schools, and community events for print and/or web.

Past research has identified the importance of local news to social and civic health, finding that it has an impact on community cohesiveness and individuals’ sense of wellbeing, rates of volunteering and attendance at religious services, participation in local electoral politics and civic institutions as well as having impacts on financial waste, corruption and borrowing costs within local governments.

Despite this importance, local news producers are also arguably the least visible and most vulnerable sector of the news market in Australia.

This project is supported by the Jibb Foundation, Susan McKinnon Foundation, Ruffin-Falkiner Foundation and Mannifera.

We need your help

Preliminary data has been released for your immediate feedback. We are asking you to look at your local area and let us know what we might be missing.

Any amendments or additions on the local news publishers in your area should be submitted by Monday 31 January 2022. Please provide feedback via this form.

An updated map of local news producers will be launched in February 2022.

Frequently asked questions

How do you define ‘local news producers’?

For this project, local news producers are those that conduct journalism to report on local issues such as council, courts, schools and/or community events.

The news outlets that we record for this project fit our interpretation of producers of ‘core news’.

‘Core news’ is a term that was introduced by the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It aligns closely to earlier definitions of ‘public interest journalism’, such as that developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the Digital Platforms Inquiry.

The Code defines core news as “content that reports, investigates or explains:

  1. issues or events that are relevant in engaging Australians in public debate and in informing democratic decision‑making; or
  2. current issues or events of public significance for Australians at a local, regional or national level.”

There are a few variations on this definition that have been adopted for this project:

  • As this project maps outlets against local government areas, the outlets captured in this data inherently have to have a local or regional geographic scale. News outlets that operate at the state/territory or national level will be captured in a future stage.
  • Outlets that only ‘explain’ news without themselves being original producers of it are not recorded.
  • This stage of the project only captures outlets that are primarily written producers of journalism, whether in print, online, or both. Broadcast news will be captured in a future stage.

Finally, PIJI is focussed journalism organisations specifically, not news organisations broadly. The two words are often used synonymously but there is a difference between them: news can be produced by any individual or organisation; journalism is a process of finding out information, verifying it and applying editorial judgment. It is characterised by professional values including independence and fairness. We attempt to only include organisations conducting journalism, rather than any news, though this distinction can be difficult to make from the outside.

Practically, this means that news outlets that are not independent of their subjects will not be included in this project, including government, business and political party news services.

Please note that PIJI’s interpretation of a ‘core news producer’ may be different from others’ interpretation.

How did you build this data?

Data for this project is assembled from a combination of sources, including existing information PIJI held through the initial Tracking changes in news production stage of the ANMP; through membership in peak body and sectoral organisations, through systematic online searching and through community contributions.

Information about publication ownership was gathered through the Australian Business Register.

If our data is missing an outlet or contains incorrect information, please email us.

Why haven’t you included broadcast news?

News outlets that primarily produce news for radio or television have different geographies, defined by their broadcasting footprints. These license areas do not map neatly to local government areas.

Organisations that are primarily radio or television broadcasters but which also produce written, local news for web are not included in the current data, including the ABC’s network of regional newsrooms.

PIJI will undertake an assessment and mapping of the broadcasting sector in stage four of this project, subject to funding.

Does this project identify ‘news deserts’?

No. This project is focussed on news producers who primarily publish written content for print and online and does not include the broadcast news production sector. Radio and television news are important sources of local news, particularly in regional areas, and no labelling of a ‘news desert’ can occur without first assessing them.

Further, it is very likely that this database is missing some news producers. We make an effort to capture as many as possible, but there is always the possibility that some have been overlooked. This is particularly true among small, community-based and non-commercial print newsletters, and those without a digital presence – these outlets are nearly impossible for us to find without help.

Can I use this data in my own work?

We have made the data available for download so that it can inform others in their own work. The data is available on a Creative Commons license which places only a few restrictions:

  • You must credit the authors, Gary Dickson and Sarah Arturi, PIJI and the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project wherever you use the data.
  • You cannot use the data for commercial purposes.
  • Whatever you create using this data you should share on a similar license. Note that this condition may not apply where the findings of the data are being cited in a research or policy context.

We also ask that you get in touch to let us know how you’re using the data. We’re always interested to hear how the project has been useful, or if you have ideas for how it could be further developed.

Data usage

The Australian Newsroom Mapping Project is an ongoing effort by the Public Interest Journalism Initiative to build and maintain data about news production and availability across the country. The data is made publicly available on a Creative Commons license to ensure that it can inform research and policy to support the news media.

Suggested citation: Dickson G. and Arturi S. 2021. Australian Newsroom Mapping Project: Local news producers. Melbourne: Public Interest Journalism Initiative. <https://localnews.piji.com.au>

The visualisation was developed by Cerphive. All rights reserved.

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