The Australian Newsroom Mapping Project

Local News Producers  ANMP Stage 2

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.

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

This project aims to identify local news producers around the country and contribute to policy design to support the sector.

FAQ Local News Producers

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
  1. 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 stage captures changes in the news market, but does not make an assessment of consistent, unchanged production. That is, it can demonstrate that a masthead has closed in a particular town, but not that another masthead remains.

PIJI is developing staged releases of new data to assist with getting a more complete view of news production, both changed and unchanged.

How can I use and cite this data?

USING ANMP DATA

Creative Commons License

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. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License which places only a few restrictions:

  • You must credit Gary Dickson, 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.

CITATION

Dickson G. 2020. Australian Newsroom Mapping Project. Melbourne: Public Interest
Journalism Initiative. <
https://anmp.piji.com.au>

VISUALISATION

Harley Alexander developed the visualisation. All rights reserved.

Can I submit a tip?

The data is actively maintained. To add or correct information, please email us directly to let us know.

Please be sure to give as much detail as you can so that we can follow up – only verified changes will appear on the map. If you see something on Twitter, be sure to tag us so that we see it too.

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We promise not to bombard you with emails, just a quarterly update on any new research and activities we’ve undertaken. We also won’t give your details to anybody else.

The onset of COVID-19 and other upheavals in the Australian news media landscape have unveiled the rapidly diminishing production of public interest journalism in Australia, particularly in coverage of our councils, parliaments, and courts. PIJI’s research show’s regional and rural communities have been most adversely affected, with emerging local news gaps in print and online at the forefront of concern.

PIJI’s comprehensive research has become a leading point of reference for examining the state of public interest journalism production and availability in Australia. This means we now have a unique opportunity for systemic industry reform, using our Australia-first data to guide short and long-term policy ideas into action.

Public interest journalism in Australia plays a critical role in our democracy. PIJI’s research is uncovering indicators of a lack of media plurality and diversity across Australia. This research has the power to help communities and decision makers create effective media policies and interventions that improve the quality and provision of public interest journalism in Australia.

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