Saturday Paper the big winner as most publishers fail to win government innovation funding

The first round of the Federal government’s oft-delayed Regional Innovation and Small Publishers’ Innovation Fund has been announced with 29 of the 186 applications being successful and only $3.6m of the announced $16m available being allocated.

Unsuccessful publishers have expressed their disappointment at the process with one telling Mumbrella four of the points they were rejected upon were factually incorrect.

Schwartz Media’s The Saturday Paper was the biggest winner from the first round of government innovation funding

A common rejection reason was that publishers lacked “a robust and transparent process for dealing with complaints about content.”

One publisher told Mumbrella they were bemused at being rejected on these grounds as they had adopted the Australian Press Council’s standards of practice.

At the time of the scheme being announced, Press Council membership was to be a criteria for successful applicants, however that provision was later dropped and replaced with a requirement that ““applicants must have a code of conduct, guidelines or similar framework relating to the provision of quality journalism. This could include adherence to the Standards of Practice established by the Australian Press Council.”

Of the winning organisations, Melbourne based publishers Schwartz Media and Private Media were the most successful.

Schwartz Media’s Saturday Paper received three grants, for two consulting projects aimed to review their customer relationship and improve their user engagement while the third was for funding to build a new digital studio.

Private Media’s Crikey picked up funding for creating a customer engagement and distribution platform while sister site The Mandarin  will receive support for developing a new professional network development module for its existing CMS.

“This funding is all about helping regional and small publishers transform their businesses to increase their capacity to provide public interest journalism relevant to their communities,” said the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield.

“It will enable regional and small publishers to innovate across a wide range of business activities related to the production of civic journalism. This includes market research, trials of new business models, podcasts, and video capability.

“The ACMA will open the next grant round early in 2019. I expect that more grants will be allocated in future rounds as applicants become more familiar with the Fund and its requirements.”

The full list of successful applicants is available from the ACMA website.


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