National Pacific Radio Trust has won a year’s funding from NZ On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Fund to enhance its reporting of Pacific news stories.
Pacific Media Network chairperson Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu said the funding of up to $275,000 out of the $18 million in grants announced by NZ On Air last week would make for more quality story telling.
“It’s a testing ground for the PMN News team. But everything we’ve thrown at them and the growth of the PMN News team in the last four years has been great and this will be even better so it’s just about consistently testing that quality of journalism that we have and the quality of storytelling,” he said.
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Pacific Media Network chief executive Don Mann said the funding was necessary as Pacific influence grew in the country.
“There’s considerable reform going on, for instance in the health area,” he said.
“We’ve got the most number of Pacific MPs we’ve ever had and there’s significant spend going into the Pasifika community.
“It’s important that PMN plays our role in holding government to account; the critical part of media and then this investment from the Public Interest Journalism fund allows us to step up the function of our news room.”
According to the NZ On Air announcement, the PMN grant would fund four new staff to work on network news.
110 journalists funded
The announcement was for funding for an additional 110 journalists across Aotearoa with a specific mandate to produce stories that keep New Zealanders informed and engaged, and support a healthy democracy.
The funding is the result of the second competitive funding round via NZ On Air’s $55m Public Interest Journalism Fund. The fund was announced in February to address a deficit in public interest journalism, a key pillar in a healthy democracy.
Combined with the first funding round, $29m has now been committed to a mix of journalism roles, defined journalism projects, and industry development initiatives.
Demand for the fund has been high. Round 2 saw a total of 63 applications applying for 311 roles and seeking close to $47m in funding.
Role-based funding was designed to support the revitalisation of the industry, to address “news deserts” and deficits in coverage of matters of importance to New Zealanders, said the NZ On Air Statement.
Statistics NZ figures show that the number of journalists in New Zealand halved between 2006 and 2018.
“Funding journalists back into newsrooms particularly at regional and local levels will help redress the drastic reduction in journalist numbers over the past few years and ensure the sector has the workforce to deliver strong public interest journalism,” said NZ On Air head of journalism Raewyn Rasch.
The performance of the funded roles is measured on content outputs. Funded roles in this round are geographically spread across the country, and will also go some way to address deficits in reporting for specific ethnic communities or issues.