Updated 8 April 2021

In February the Minister of Broadcasting and Media, Hon Kris Faafoi announced Cabinet had agreed to a $55m allocation to provide targeted, short to medium-term support for public interest journalism. NZ On Air is to administer the funds.

NZ On Air engaged media consultant Hal Crawford to conduct targeted sector consultation to inform the funding framework design. The agency is now able to reveal the high-level characteristics of the fund with ongoing sector consultation likely to shape further details of the funding programme.

The three pillars of the Public Interest Journalism funding programme will be:

  • Project funding – for tightly defined projects delivered to a deadline, similar to those funded via the NZ Media Fund Factual stream
  • Role funding – supporting newsrooms for the employment of reporters, clearly tied to content outcomes
  • Industry development funding – including cross-industry cadetships, and targeted upskilling initiatives

The Public Interest Journalism funding programme will be a ring-fenced stream within the NZ Media Fund, but with its own eligibility criteria, assessment criteria and application guidelines.

The first funding round will open at the end of April and will call for Projects and Industry Development applications. Role funding will follow once further sector consultation has been completed. NZ On Air has engaged Te Amokura Consultants to engage with the Māori media sector, with that input informing the ongoing design of the funding programme.

NZ On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Overview sets out decisions made to date on the design of the funding programme.

The Stakeholder Consultation Report: Public Interest Journalism Fund is a summary of the stakeholder interviews and recommendations produced by consultant Hal Crawford.

Guidelines for the first funding round, eligibility criteria and assessment criteria will be released on 30 April.

The funding allocation runs through until the end of the 2022/23 financial year.

The fund will be open to all NZ media entities: from large organisations through to small, local entities, and Māori, Pacific and ethnic media. Organisations must show their projects fill a public interest service and would otherwise be at risk or not produced without this fund’s support. This may include (and is not limited to) investigative journalism, data journalism and photo journalism.

The Public Interest Journalism initiative will provide transitional support to media organisations as the sector evolves in a way that ensures the longer-term sustainability of New Zealand’s media.

The $55m fund is split across three years: $10m for the remainder of 2020/21, $25m in 2021/22 and $20m in 2022/23.

This initiative is designed to build a critical bridge between the short term Covid relief provided to the media sector and the longer-term initiatives we have underway. The funding will support the vital public interest journalism function within the sector while the sector adapts and evolves.

By phasing the funding over three years, we strike a balance of providing support without creating dependency and ultimately deliver the most long-term sustainable solution for the sector

NZ On Air has 30-plus years experience in funding applications assessment and distribution of funds to a broad array of NZ media and content makers. We have the systems, processes and people to swiftly implement a robust, accountable system for allocating funding for journalism.

NZ On Air already funds a number of journalism initiatives from within the Factual funding stream. These include the Stuff Circuit and Newsroom Investigates investigative reporting strands, the daily news podcast The Detail, the kids news strand Kea Kids News, and a number of specialist current affairs, news generating programmes such as Q & A, The Nation and The Hui. NZ On Air also partners with RNZ and the NPA on the Local Democracy Reporting scheme, and funds some regional journalism.

But we are also adding specialised expertise to the team for this funding initiative.

Consultation with the sector (underway) is being run for us by Hal Crawford, a media executive with 25 years' experience in digital and broadcast, having worked as Chief News Officer at Mediaworks in Auckland and Editor-in-Chief at ninemsn in Sydney. Hal’s consultancy on this journalism initiative comes off the back of a recent comprehensive review he undertook to assess the impact of the NZ Media Fund since its launch in 2017.

We also intend to employ a Head of Journalism and a Funding Advisor – Journalism. These roles will be advertised shortly.

NZ On will publish eligibility criteria as we open funding rounds. We intend to run an iterative process– what is learned from the first round will be applied to the second round, for eg. We may also issue specific call-outs for applications where we see market gaps.

Want to be kept informed?

If you’d like to be kept informed as we progress through the above process you can email journalism@nzonair.govt.nz

You can read more about the background to this funding initiative on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website at https://mch.govt.nz/investing-sustainable-journalism