Fifty-one news publishers and independent journalists will be awarded AU$5M in funding from the Meta Australian News Fund, in the third round of a AUD$15M three-year investment in partnership with the Walkley Foundation. In its final year, the fund program has so far supported around 150 eligible Australian-based newsrooms and journalists to foster innovation and improve public interest journalism in Australia.
This year’s successful recipients represent a diverse set of digital-first publications, and publishers that cater to underrepresented audiences such as culturally diverse, LGBTQI+, First Nation peoples, gender diverse, regional, rural, and economically disadvantaged communities and journalists working with a disability. In this round there was an additional focus on stories or projects that prioritise: video first, women in sport, First Nations languages and languages other than English. The Walkley Foundation managed the judging process independently of Meta.
Amid the recipients are a range of projects platforming women in sport, First Nations reporting, podcasts, science explainers and STEM projects through the lens of women and Indigenous people. A number of projects focus on keeping people safe and informed amid disasters like bushfires and floods, particularly in small communities.
2023/Round 3 Meta Fund Recipients
Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn said: “It has been exciting to watch the success of the Meta-funded projects. Year One recipient Daniel Clarke , a freelance journalist and filmmaker, for example, went on to win a 2023 Walkley Award and was named South Australian Journalist of the Year for his documentary on the aftermath of the Kangaroo Island fires. Equally impressive work is underway from the Year Two recipients and so I am certain that this third tranche of recipients will also make a significant contribution to Australian journalism. Once again, the quality of entries was high and judges, all leading journalists, debated long and hard to reach their decisions. The Meta News Fund is truly making a difference.”
The Meta Australian News Fund is divided into two funds, the Digital Innovation Fund and the Public Interest Journalism Fund. Both are administered through the Walkley Foundation, which nominated an independent external judging committee to review applications against the funds’ eligibility criteria, which included whether or not the project contributed to the news organisation’s long-term viability or provided a public benefit.
A Meta spokesperson said: “I’d like to thank our partner, the Walkley Foundation, for their continued support in driving innovation in Australia’s smaller newsrooms. Each year these funds have helped a diverse set of media organisations invest in new technologies, grow revenue and continue to produce stories that matter to a range of audiences.”
The Digital Innovation Fund will allocate AU$2.5M, in grants of up to AU$250,000 to help newsrooms invest in digital and innovation projects that support economic sustainability.
The Public Interest Journalism Fund will also allocate AU$2.5M, providing grants of up to AU$120,000 to invest in the creation of public interest journalism by newsrooms and independent journalists to encourage media diversity.
In 2022, the Meta Australian News Fund in partnership with the Walkley Foundation awarded 52 newsrooms and independent journalists a combined AU$5M in funding. As a result of this funding, newsrooms and independent journalists have been able to launch innovation and sustainability projects and produce more public interest journalism. You can read more about the projects delivered from the second year’s funding recipients here.
The Walkley Foundation is independently managing Australian News Fund on behalf of Meta, and convened two judging panels composed of expert journalists and publishers from across the Australian media. The judges reviewed the applications over a six-week period then met to deliberate and decide which projects were most worthy of funding. Offers of partial funding to several projects allowed the program to fund more media organisations than anticipated. The judges were:
Digital Innovation Fund:
- Chair: Hal Crawford, Founder at Crawford Media Consulting
- Elise Holman, Head of Sky News
- Stephen Hutcheon, editor and reporter, formerly Sydney Morning Herald and ABC Digital Story Innovation team
- Sashka Koloff, Managing Editor, Standards & Compliance, Content Division, ABC
- Lisa Muxworthy, Editor in Chief of News.com.au
- Steve Pennells, award-winning journalist
Public Interest Journalism Fund:
- Monica Attard OAM, Centre for Media Transition, UTS
- Liz Walsh, Editor, SA Life
- Russell Anderson CEO, National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council
- Liam Phelan, Deputy Editor, the Sydney Morning Herald
At the end of the judging a selection of 28 Public Interest Journalism Fund recipients, and 23 Digital Innovation Fund recipients were made.
The Walkley Foundation:
- Sian Gard on 0403 258 054 or at email@example.com
- James Gorman on +414 990 480 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gina Murphy, APAC Comms at email@example.com