ABC will partner with researchers from Deakin and Griffith Universities to examine innovative ways the public broadcaster can support local news sustainability.
A three-year Australian Research Council project will determine how the ABC can best develop partnerships and collaborations with regional news organizations to support public interest journalism. The project follows a recommendation from the 2022 Parliamentary Inquiry into Regional Newspapers which suggests that Australian public broadcasters should increase their efforts to support regional news sustainability through partnerships.
ABC News head of strategic research, Dr. Angela Ross, said: ‘The cuts and closures have resulted in fewer regional issues, stories and perspectives being reported, and, worryingly, fewer accountability reporting. locally”.
Dr. Ross said ABC was able to fill some of the local news gap with about 60 additional news roles placed in regional locations through funding commercial deals signed with Google and Facebook in 2021.
“ABC plays a critical public service role in connecting rural and regional communities and elevating regional stories and issues, but it cannot fill all the local news gaps,” he said.
“ABC is keen to use this project to consider how it can help design a unique and effective partnership model targeting underserved regional areas for local news.”
Professor Kristy Hess, from Deakin University, said: “We need to look at what existing media infrastructure and services are out there and determine if there is a willingness to work together to support particularly vulnerable areas of the ecology.
“Ultimately, it’s about helping ensure the long-term sustainability of an industry that has struggled in a time of digital disruption to ensure rural and regional audiences have access to authentically local news.”
The research team will identify the challenges faced by regional, print and digital news providers, particularly in communities underserved by local media, then recommend the best ways the ABC can support the local news industry.
The team led by Professor Hess, together with Professor Deakin Matthew Ricketson; Professor Susan Forde of Griffith University; Dr Ross and Hugh Martin, ABC’s Victoria Regional Editor, will also consider and incorporate lessons learned from existing partnerships between the ABC and groups such as the Local and Independent News Association (LINA) and First Nations Media Australia (FNMA).
Any individual or group who play a role in providing local news to regional and rural communities and would like to be consulted as part of the project are welcome to contact Angela Ross by email at (email protected) or Professor Hess at ( email protected)