Public Interest Journalism Fund


The Public Interest Journalism Fund is a ring-fenced stream within the NZ Media Fund designed to provide targeted, short to medium-term support for public interest journalism.

The three pillars of the Public Interest Journalism Fund are:

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

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.

Want to be kept informed?

If you’d like to be kept informed about the Public Interest Journalism Fund you sign up to receive updates here.

You can read more about the background to this funding initiative on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website.

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. (*minus administrative costs)

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 have employed a Head of Journalism, Raewyn Rasch, and will employ a Manager - Journalism and a Funding Advisor – Journalism. These roles will be filled shortly.

Latest updates

Updated 1 July 2021

NZ On Air received 123 applications requesting a total of $44m in our first round. We ran a two stage process, inviting five-page applications at the first stage and then inviting the strongest proposals to be submitted in greater detail at stage two. 41 proposals proceeded to full application stage.

We then have a two-stage decision-making process. Applications for less than $1m are decided by our Staff Investment Committee and those for over $1m go to the Board.

Those applicants who've been successful with proposals seeking less than $1m have now been notified of their success. The remaining decisions will be made by the Board on July 14. We will be releasing the full list of successful projects on July 15.

In this first round, subject to the final Board decisions, we have achieved a good spread of funding across local, regional and national audiences and media entities involving a wide range of media formats.

In the Hal Crawford Stakeholder consultation report and at the recent Journalism Summit the idea of establishing a Shared Data Unit based on a model established in the UK was floated. The concept establishes intensive training for data journalists via live-in training units where any data stories uncovered during the course of hands-on training could be shared back to the participants’ news organisation.

In the UK the unit is hosted by the BBC with experts running the training and applicants being drawn from participating media around the country. The benefits of the unit are seen as an increase in highly trained data journalists along with the provision of investigative data for media participants. Full details of the presentation to the Summit by media consultant Hal Crawford can be found here.

Setting up a New Zealand model requires clarity around the following questions and we would be grateful if you could provide your feedback by answering these questions.

Do you see a critical need for more data journalists in New Zealand?

Do you see a need for a large scale training scheme (20 people or more)?

Would you support the establishment of a Shared Data Unit in New Zealand?

Should such a Unit be hosted by a media organisation or education training provider (i.e. University)

Your feedback will be vital in progressing this training concept so we would appreciate your participation by email reply to Head of Journalism, Raewyn Rasch

Current round

This information is for applicants intending to make a funding application to the Role-based funding pillar of the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Please read the full Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF) Round 2 Funding Round Information for Applicants here.

Due to the large number of applications expected for Role-based funding, this round will be focused solely on Role-based applications. The third round is due to open in early September and, given the iterative nature of the fund, we will review the status of PIJF funded outcomes after 6 September to determine whether Project, Industry Development and Role-based funding should all be included in that round.

What kind of role can you apply for?

The intent of this fund is to increase the quantity and quality of public interest journalism. Qualifying criteria for a funded role are:

  • Produces content within an agreed reporting subject scope (aligned to the General Guidelines)
  • Accredited to the PIJF.
  • Included in PIJF metrics reporting.
  • PIJF roles will not be permitted to contribute to general reporting unless this is within the subject scope and credited.

(Advice about qualifying roles can be sought from the Head of Journalism, Raewyn Rasch ahead of proposals being submitted.

Important dates

Thursday 1 July, 4pm - Funding round opens and guidelines published

Thursday 22 July, 4pm - Five-page application deadline. Round closes.

Friday 30 July - Shortlist decided

Monday 3 August - Shortlist contacted

Tuesday 4 August - Feedback to shortlist

Thursday 12 August, 4pm - Full proposal deadline

6 September - Decisions for applications seeking ≤ $1m

22 September - Decisions for applications seeking > $1m

Resources to apply

The following guidance documents are intended to help applicants understand how the fund will work, what they can apply for, and whether they may be eligible.

  • The General Guidelines is the foundation document which you should read to understand the fund’s objectives, eligibility and assessment criteria.
  • The Round guidelines set out what we are accepting applications for in the first round. New guidelines are issued for each round.
  • The Funding flowchart is a step-by-step guide to the funding application and assessment process from start to finish, and will be especially useful for first-time applicants.
  • The Q and A attempts to anticipate common questions and provide answers. Please look here first, before making contact.
  • The Funding Deadlines document has the opening and closing round details until the end of the year.

NZ On Air hosted a Public Interest Journalism summit in Auckland and via Zoom, to provide feedback to the sector on what we'd seen in the first round of applications, provide some pointers on what we would like to see in future rounds, and to answer questions.

The afternoon session of the summit was dedicated to addressing Māori and iwi journalism needs.

Below is a summary of the discussion points, along with a number of both presentations and reports referenced during the day.

We have also published today the list of external assessors used in this first round. Our practice is to draw from a roster of external assessors who bring specialist expertise to our application assessment process. (We do this in all areas of funding.) You will find this information under PIJF Assessment and Decision-making process.

On Wednesday 5 May NZ On Air held a webinar to answer questions about the recently released Public Interest Journalism guidelines.

This webinar was aimed at first-time applicants to NZ On Air and designed to make the process as easy and understandable as possible.

PIJF Assessment and decision-making process

As there will be more applications than available funding, assessment stages are tiered so that the most work and resources are spent on the applications with the most likelihood of success.

We will assess proposals using the eligibility criteria (Page 4) and assessment criteria (Page 6) set out in the PIJF General Guidelines. PIJF criteria were developed in partnership with Te Māngai Pāho and shared with the sector for feedback prior to publishing. All considerations under the PIJF are iterative and allowance will be made for amendment prior to each funding round.

The assessment flowchart is here and further outlined on Section 10, Page 9 of the General Guidelines.

All assessment panels will consist of industry representatives (including those from within or adjacent to the Māori Journalism sector) alongside Crown/Māori (Te Māngai Pāho) and NZ On Air representation. The panel will:

  • make recommendations for funding by coming to a consensus at the meeting
  • take into account additional information provided by NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho staff.

Depending on the size of the funding round, not all applications will be discussed by the panel due to time constraints, with the conversation generally focussed on applications with the most likelihood of success. We ask external assessors to provide us with constructive commentary that substantiates their recommendations.

Round 1 – May/Jul 2021

The following assessors were used during Round 1. At least two external assessors reviewed every application submitted alongside NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho staff, although not all external assessors looked at every application. (Assessors are assigned to applications based on their specialist expertise and after considering any potential conflict of interest.)

  1. Verica Rupar - AUT Professor of Journalism. Former journalist, political correspondent, political editor, commentator, foreign correspondent and deputy editor-in-chief of Politika, one of the oldest daily newspapers in Central Europe.
  2. Jason Ake (Ngāti Ranginui, Pirirākau, Ngāti Māhanga) - General Manager Communications and Engagement at Waikato Tainui. Former journalist, producer and press secretary.
  3. James Ihaka (Ngāti Porou) - Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Communications Manager. Former senior reporter for the New Zealand Herald.
  4. Jim Tucker – Writer and former journalist. Served as picture editor, editorial manager, deputy editor, associate editor and editor. He set up the Sunday Star (now the Sunday Star-Times). Former head of the NZ Journalists Training Organisation and lecturer in Journalism.
  5. Gavin Ellis - Lecturer, Media consultant and researcher. A former editor-in-chief of the New Zealand Herald and senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. He chaired the New Zealand Media Freedom Committee and was recipient of the Commonwealth Astor Award for Press Freedom..
  6. Raewyn Rasch (Ngāi Tahu) - NZ On Air Head of Journalism. Former General Manager Māori and Pacific programmes at TVNZ, executive producer of Seven Sharp, producer of Fair Go and Marae Investigates, TV and radio journalist.
  7. Blake Ihimaera (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tahu) - Te Māngai Pāho Head of Content. Former producer at Pango Productions and Marae TV.
  8. Anna Currie - NZ On Air Funding Advisor.

Resources for funded applicants

If you have had Public Interest Journalism funding approved, please complete the relevant Funding Contract Initiation Form below and send it, along with attachments listed on the last page of the form, to

Contracting will begin once you have completed any pre-contracting requirements specified in your Letter of Offer and once NZ On Air has received all the requested information from you and your supporting platform/s. Contracting will take not more than 20 working days from receipt of all necessary information.