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Tim Dower: The low-down on the Public Interest Journalism Fund

Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 8:12AM
(Photo / Stock)
(Photo / Stock)

Tim Dower: The low-down on the Public Interest Journalism Fund

Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 8:12AM

So here's the low-down on the Public Interest Journalism Fund. 

55 million bucks dished out over a series of funding rounds, and all gone now. The fund's been wound up. 

The company that owns this station won nearly $7 million in round one, another $3 million in round two, and a couple of top-ups after that. 

In fact, all the major players, including the already publicly funded broadcasters, everyone, every outfit including some you've never heard was in the trough. 

Let's remember the context —Covid— and the wave of redundancies that caused right through the commercial media. 

Advertising revenue evaporated and some media companies were on the brink of failure. 

Now, to get your hands on the money you had to agree to this: 

"A clear and obvious commitment or intent for commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, including a commitment to te reo Māori." 

On top of that, we had to commit to public interest journalism, data provision, New Zealand content, freely available online distribution, media standards and so on. 

Overall, it funded 219 jobs and 22 development projects. 

NZME used it on Journalism Cadetships for Māori and Pasifika, covering court proceedings and community journalists in provincial papers. 

Jobs that most likely wouldn't have been there without the money. 

But was it a bribe? 

Well... I'd ask you how any media company could function in New Zealand without a commitment to the Treaty. It's a part of our lives, like it or not. 

A commitment to te reo... well I think we've been involved in Māori Language Week since it began back in the 1970s. Is it enough? I think it's enough for our audience. 

And was there ever any public money to cover it? Actually no. 

And while we're at it, there's never been public funding to my knowledge for coverage of Waitangi Day, the Tribunal, or other matters Māori. 

On the subject of, let's not say bribery, let's say incentive, what was the billion-dollar Provincial Growth Fund? 

And what's the unwinding of smokefree changes or more money for the racing industry?

Obviously, most definitely, not a bribe. 

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