Public Interest Journalism Funding


Updated 30 April 2021

The inaugural funding round for the Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF) is now open. Read below the essential information for intending applicants.

Important dates:

Round opens: Fri 30 April at 4pm

Round closes: Thurs 13 May at 4pm

What you need to know 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 this first 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.

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.

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.

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.

Want to be kept informed?

If you’d like to be kept informed as we progress through the above process 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.