Minister Rowland Emphasizes Local News Importance, Announces Media Support Bills at LINA Summit

Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland announced plans to introduce legislation supporting local news and combating misinformation at the LINA Summit 2024. The government's News Media Assistance Program aims to promote a sustainable media environment and diverse news ecosystem.

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Minister Rowland Emphasizes Local News Importance, Announces Media Support Bills at LINA Summit

Minister Rowland Emphasizes Local News Importance, Announces Media Support Bills at LINA Summit

PORT DOUGLAS, Australia - At the Local and Independent News Association (LINA) Summit 2024 in Port Douglas, Australian Communications Minister Michelle Rowland stressed the critical role of local news in promoting media diversity and a robust democracy. Addressing over 75 delegates from more than 50 news organizations and industry partners, Rowland announced the government's commitment to introducing legislation aimed at supporting a sustainable media environment and combating the spread of misinformation.

Why this matters: A thriving local news sector is vital for maintaining a well-informed citizenry and promoting democratic accountability. By supporting local news, the government can help mitigate the risks of misinformation and disinformation, which can have far-reaching consequences for public health, safety, and social cohesion. By supporting local news, the government can help mitigate the risks of misinformation and disinformation, which can have far-reaching consequences for public health, safety, and social cohesion.

"Local, hyper-local, digital and independent news is key to this,"Rowland stated. Local, independent news"All Australians – regardless of where they live – want, and deserve, access to local news that they can rely upon. The minister highlighted the Albanese Government's dedication to nurturing a diverse news media ecosystem through initiatives including the News Media Assistance Program (News MAP), which has received over 70 written submissions, including from LINA.

LINA, a not-for-profit industry association established in 2021 to support local and independent digital news, has experienced significant growth. In 2023, the association reported 62 publishers producing 86 mastheads, generating over $14 million in revenue and publishing 75,000 local stories. The government's $1.5 million in federal funding has played a vital role in LINA's success.

The government is designing its News MAP policy framework around four key objectives: access, quality, diversity, and engagement. The program is set to be released later this year. In addition to the News MAP, the government is making strides in other media reforms, including the passage of the Community TV bill and the anticipated passage of the Prominence and Anti-siphoning reforms.

Rowland also announced plans to introduce a bill for an Australian content obligation on streaming services and legislation to combat misinformation and disinformation online. "We are delivering on our media reform agenda to help support a strong, diverse, local and independent news media sector in Australia, well into the future," Rowland affirmed.

The LINA Summit 2024, co-hosted by Port Douglas' local news service Newsport, serves as a platform for discussing critical issues facing the industry, such as revenue and sustainability for newsrooms, audience trust and engagement, public interest journalism, and utilizing new technologies like AI. Western Weekender"It's been fantastic to hear a range of new ideas, and to learn about a range of initiatives available for our industry,"said Western Weekender Managing Editor, Troy Dodds.

The government faces significant challenges posed by rising misinformation and disinformation, and the role of local news publishers in delivering reliable information and connecting communities has never been more vital. Newsport's coverage of the Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper recovery operation in Port Douglas exemplifies the importance of local journalism in times of crisis.

Minister Rowland's emphasis on the significance of local news and the government's proactive approach to supporting the media sector through legislation and initiatives like the News MAP demonstrate a clear commitment to promoting a thriving and sustainable media environment in Australia. The industry faces the challenges of the digital age, and such support will be vital in ensuring that all Australians have access to reliable, high-quality local news.

Key Takeaways

  • Australian Gov't to introduce legislation to support local news and combat misinformation.
  • Local news crucial for democracy, public health, safety, and social cohesion.
  • Gov't's News Media Assistance Program (News MAP) to promote media diversity and sustainability.
  • LINA, a not-for-profit industry association, reports significant growth in local and independent digital news.
  • Gov't to introduce bill for Australian content obligation on streaming services and anti-misinformation legislation.