Monday, May 27, 2019

A good idea

The decline of the media has meant a decline in local government reporting, which in turn threatens a decline in our democracy. So the government is going to try and fix it, by funding it through NZ On Air:

Publicly funded reporters will be employed by news publishers around the country in a first-of-its-kind scheme unveiled today to address declines in local news coverage. It’s the result of a government-approved collaboration between RNZ, publishers and the government’s broadcasting funding agency.

Eight reporters will be recruited to report local news around the country under a new scheme created by the Newspaper Publishers Association, RNZ and the government's broadcasting funding agency New Zealand on Air (NZOA).

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) will generate news and content available to media outlets including RNZ, the country’s biggest newspaper publishers - Stuff, NZME and South Island publisher Allied Press - and small local publishers too.

One million dollars to fund the scheme comes from the $6m Joint Innovation Fund for RNZ and NZOA established by the government in last year’s Budget to create “more public media content for under-served audiences” including regional New Zealand.

It basicly means the government will be paying for private media organisations to employ journalists to report solely on local democracy issues: local government, DHBs, trusts, and council-controlled organisations. The content will then be syndicated, making it available to all. Its a good move to ensure that this vital public watchdog function isn't killed off by the rapacious venture capitalists who own much of our media, and the model has been tested already in the UK. But I'm wondering: if the print media continues its decline into farming clickbait, at what stage will the government need to step in and introduce a public ownership model to protect their vital democratic functions? We do it for broadcast media; is it time to do it for print and web as well?