PS Media piloting news model in three local communities

PS Media has selected three pilot locations to develop its collaborative news model this year.

The communities of Port Phillip and Brimbank in Victoria and Logan in Queensland will host the platform’s first pilots, with aim of validating the desirability, feasibility and viability of of the PS Media product over the coming months.

The Brimbank and Logan Pilots will be supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Scanlon Foundation, with the pilots set to focus on climate change and social inclusion. The startup is also backed by the Ruffin-Falkiner Foundation, Small Giants, Deane Weir, Paul Robertson AO, Chris Cuffe AO and Maria Manning.

The pilots will focus on fulfilling hyperlocal news needs, with three key content pillars including COVID resilience and recovery, climate, and misinformation/disinformation, each of which are considered mayor issues for communities for the upcoming federal election.

“In an age of rapid, one-dimensional news that inspires overwhelm and increases fragmentation, *PS Media is a critical intervention that places community at the centre. I can’t wait to see this project develop,” said Kaj Lofgren, Small Giants and Regen Melbourne.

Ex-Buzzfeed Australia’s founding editor and cofounder of PS Media, Simon Crerar said: “PS Media is a profit-for-purpose model for local news, designed to solve critical information needs, and to return profits back into the communities we serve. We’re building a collaborative piece of digital community infrastructure that will be co-created and co-owned by out local audiences, and freely accessible to all.”

“Launching a social enterprise is hard at any moment, and this one is certainly challenging – in the (hopefully) dying days of a pandemic, with biblical floods at home, and a terrifying war over the horizon. We have done a huge amount of market research, and in every community surveyed (50+ LGAs around Australia), we’ve found strong demand for innovation in the local news space. After the pandemic forced us all to go hyperlocal for months at a time, people have a renewed understanding of the essential role local media plays in their communities, and want to support new entrants. We’re so excited to get to work!” Crerar added.

Crerar launched PS Media in early 2021, alongside co-founders Karen Mahleb, CEO of Probono Australia, Robert Wise, GM of WE Australia and Dr Margaret Simons, former director at the Centre for Advancing Journalism. 

The pilots mark the next step in the PS Media project, following focus groups conducted in partnership with Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre.

The focus groups were carried out across six communities including Bega Valley in NSW, East Gippsland in Vic, Gladstone in QLD , North West TAS, the Eyre Peninsula in SA and Geraldton in WA, with the purpose of finding out Australians attitudes towards their local news environments, their relationship with different tiers of government and their willingness to embrace new news models.

The focus groups revealed that 35% of participants were interested in a profit-for-purpose business model, 32% were interested in co-designing the new model and 20% were interested in community co-ownership.

Recruitment has already commenced for the pilots, with the startup seeking three reports, a copy editor and an operations manager, who will work under the guidance of PS Media’s editor at large Margaret Simons.

The startup also has plans to recruit up to five freelance content creators in each location on a freelance basis. Those interested in applying for a position can view the adverts on LinkedIn.


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