Stories examining issues of importance to a wide range of communities, and programmes designed to upskill and increase the number of journalists are among projects approved in the inaugural round of the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Established in February with a $55m government allocation to NZ On Air, the fund aims to support at-risk public interest journalism, meeting local, regional and national audience needs.

In the first round a wide range of journalism projects from in-depth investigations to a proposal to revisit the impactful Inside Child Poverty documentary 10 years since it first aired have been supported. Also funded is a bilingual Te Reo Māori weekly newspaper supplement and a year-long in-depth look at the lives of teenagers coming of age in a pandemic.

A number of funded projects will shine a light on issues impacting the country such as how does our public service measure up, what will happen when the Alpine fault ruptures, why is type 2 diabetes ravaging our Pacific young people, and how to combat public health mis-information.

The largest training programme will provide the country’s first comprehensive Māori and diverse voices journalism cadetship scheme to train and hire 25 new journalists. Te Rito is a collaboration between Māori Television, Newshub, NZME, and Pacific Media Network and 11 other supporting media organisations. Another large scale scheme Pīpī Paopao will deliver regional workshops for more than 100 iwi radio staff, to strengthen Māori public interest journalism.

NZ On Air received 123 applications asking for more than $44m from a total pool of $9.6m available in the first round. A panel including independent industry assessors recommended 34 applications for funding.

NZ On Air Head of Journalism Raewyn Rasch says the focus on Māori and journalists from diverse backgrounds is a response to the media sector’s recognition of the need to increase representation within the country’s newsrooms.

“We expect to support more training programmes in future rounds, which will collectively deliver a major boost for New Zealand journalism. Training is a vital part of the media landscape that has suffered through increasing financial pressures and by injecting resources back into this area, the Public Interest Journalism Fund will have a positive and long-lasting impact.”

The first funding round was open for Project and Industry development funding. The second funding round due to close 22 July is focused on Role-based funding.

“We’ve seen the number of journalists in New Zealand halved since 2008 and the ability to help fund at least 100 roles back into the industry will have a significant impact not only on the industry but on the quality of journalism provided to New Zealanders,” said Ms Rasch.

Funding details

Projects – National

The Detail, Newsroom NZ for RNZ, 322 x 22 mins podcasts up to $806,135. Daily podcast explaining the stories behind the headlines, giving greater context and understanding of notable events.

The Whole Truth, Stuff for, up to $591,465. The Whole Truth is an animated fact-checking project designed to protect public health.

Paakiwaha, UMA Broadcasting for, up to $433,000. A bilingual news and current affairs show that will be expanded to provide a breakfast current affairs programme available on iwi radio stations.

IRL, Hex Work for The Spinoff, up to $335,746. IRL will explore the real-world consequences of online life through in-depth investigative features and personal stories.

Party People, Aotearoa Media Collective for RNZ, Tūranga FM, Radio Waatea, up to $236,930. An audio and video series bringing scrutiny and review to politics, whilst preserving an upbeat and conversational approach to political analysis.

Nē?, Hex Work for The Spinoff, up to $217,325. Nē? is a podcast and written series that will explore hot issues within te ao Māori through an informed and dynamic Māori lens.

Inside Child Poverty 10 Years On, Red Sky Film & Television for Three, up to $204,970. Investigative journalist Bryan Bruce will review what has or has not been done to improve the lives of our nation’s most deprived tamariki.

Ifoga, SunPix for TP+, E-Tangata, Māori Television, Pacific Media Network (NPRT), up to $181,118. A video series to investigate the ongoing stories of Pasifika who have suffered abuse in state care.

The Hui: Summer Edition, Great Southern Television for, The Hui online platforms, up to $178,729. A summer edition of the Māori current affairs programme produced by up-and-coming Māori journalists to be broadcast during The Hui’s summer hiatus.

How Good Is Our Public Service?, BusinessDesk for BusinessDesk, up to $174,092. An un-paywalled multimedia series that will assess the quality, size, organisation, capabilities, and composition of NZ’s public service.

Maisuka, SunPix for TP+, Pacific Media Network (NPRT), E-Tangata, Māori Television up to $131,139. A documentary investigating the tsunami of Type 2 diabetes in the Moana adolescent population and its impact.

Being Teen, Kowhai Media for New Zealand Geographic, up to $98,533. A text and photography-based longitudinal series looking at the lives, hopes, dreams, desires and challenges of 10 NZ teenagers entering adulthood.

Cybersecurity In Aotearoa, Techday for SecurityBrief New Zealand, CFOtech New Zealand, IT Brief New Zealand, bizEDGE New Zealand, ChannelLife New Zealand, FutureFive New Zealand up to $73,152. A series of text-based stories and interviews focusing on issues of cybersecurity in Aotearoa.

System Overhaul, North & South Media for North & South, up to $42,500. An investigative long-form text story that will tell the behind-the-scenes story of a high-stakes effort to fix a deeply troubled state care sector.

The Living Forest, Lifestyle Publishing for Wilderness Magazine, up to $4,250. A text-based series that will visit three iwi in New Zealand to understand their relationship with the ngāhere (forest).

Projects – Local/Regional

Local Focus, Very Nice Productions for NZ Herald and NZME regional publications, up to $840,000. An expansion of the current regional video news service provided to a wider reach of regional centres.

The South Today, Allied Press for, up to $675,000. An expanded service of video news content to local communities in the South Island.

Te Awa, Awa FM for Awa FM, up to $498,370. News made from the perspective of Whanganui Māori in Whanganui dialect reo and English.

Haukāinga, Te Reo Irirangi O Te Hiku O Te Ika for, up to $460,000. A regional journalism initiative providing news, current affairs and live broadcasts to Māori audiences in Northland and to wider Iwi Radio.

Rotorua Weekender - Te Wāhanga Reo Rua, NZME for Rotorua Weekender, up to $440,000. A weekly bilingual Te Reo Māori and English section in the Rotorua Weekender newspaper to shine a light on local Rotorua iwi issues and people.

Forever A Foreigner, Stuff for PlayStuff, Māori Television, up to $214,360. A multimedia series investigates what it was really like for NZ’s first Asian immigrants and descendants and the issues Chinese New Zealanders face.

Deep South, Crux for, up to $189,522. An investigative video series examining complex social and economic issues in the lower half of the South Island, Te Waipounamu.

Fault Lines, Vanishing Point Studio for North & South, Westport News, the Greymouth Star, Hokitika Guardian, Nelson Weekly and Marlborough Weekly, Tahu FM, up to $166,600. A cross-platform piece of explanatory journalism looking at the science behind, and the communities at risk of, the rupture of the Alpine Fault.

Whakatupuria Te Moana A Toi, Radio Bay Of Plenty, up to $97,000. A radio-based, multimedia project that will report on the $200m worth of Provincial Growth Fund projects in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Te Ao Mārama, Salient Magazine for Salient Magazine, up to $7,291. A special edition of Salient produced by Māori students who will be mentored and supported at Victoria University of Wellington.

Industry Development

Te Rito Journalism Project, NZME, Māori Television, Newshub and Pacific Media Network with 11 support partners, up to $2,419,253 (Funding spans two financial years, $800,000 in Yr 1). A programme to identify, train, develop and hire 25 cadet Māori, Pasifika and diverse journalists.

Pīpī Paopao, Aotearoa Media Collective, up to $361,815. A training initiative providing regional workshops for more than 100 iwi radio staff, to strengthen Māori public interest journalism in Māori communities.

Training: Multi-lens Journalism, Stuff, up to $300,800. A cultural competency course for Stuff journalists (eventually to be shared across the industry) to fundamentally shift representation in NZ media.

Current Affairs and Culture Magazine Mentorship Programme, The Spinoff, up to $287,310. A training initiative pairing journalism cadets with a mentor across NZ publications incl, Metro, North & South, NZ Geographic and The Pantograph Punch.

BusinessDesk Cadet Training Programme, BusinessDesk, up to $191,000. Training for two specialist business journalists at the Auckland and Wellington newsrooms of BusinessDesk.

Disability Roadshow, Attitude Pictures, up to $121,420. Workshops around the country to upskill journalists in best practice disability rights and reporting.

Photo Aotearoa, Kowhai Media, up to $98,256. A four-day intensive workshop and a three-month mentoring programme training photojournalists with international mentors.

Newsroom, Newsroom NZ, up to $50,610. Training to upskill Newsroom’s two recently employed graduate journalists across a diverse range of journalism skills.

Coconet Reporter Training, Tikilounge Productions, up to $49,324. Training to upskill three Coconet reporter trainees in kaupapa Pasifika journalism.