The local independent news sector is at a critical juncture. Journalists are being retrenched as newspaper outlets close across Australia. The ACCC documents 105 regional news closures in the decade from 2008 – 2018 and there are many more in the years since.
Recently there has been a new trend, independent news outlets are popping up all over the country. Gauging an accurate number of these outlets is difficult. According to Gary Dickson from the Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI) and their Australian Newsroom Mapping Project since 1 January 2019, 63 independent outlets have opened who use print / digital as their primary platform.
Many of these are among the smallest of the small when it comes to media operations, but they are also among the most significant in terms of doing the heavy lifting on local reporting and holding local decision makers to account.
The roadmap to becoming a sustainable news business is evolving and not always clear, but people have been starting them anyway.
These independent news organisations are making a significant impact in their communities. They are building community spirit by covering good news stories, local sporting events, council development stories that have huge impacts, and most of these stories would never be found in larger mainstream media. They are buoyed by their community support, but they need more: more support, more resources, more funding and, crucially, more people advocating for them and helping them achieve success.
This is where the Local Independent News Association (LINA) comes in. The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) has partnered with the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas to launch LINA. Members will be community focused, independently owned and cover public interest news and important local issues and work at a local geographic level. We will be serving existing and aspiring independent news entrepreneurs, and we are currently building our LINA team to support them.
If you think you can make a difference in the mission we’ve outlined here, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you work for a university and you’re interested in integrating LINA’s work into the classroom, or directing your students toward the independent news ecosystem, let us know. If you’re thinking about getting involved in launching your own digital news business, or you’re curious about the space, please reach out to us.
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