As the number of COVID-19 infections climbs across the globe, so too do stories about journalism job losses, newsroom cutbacks and masthead closures. This raises the question: what does the pandemic-induced economic crisis mean for public interest journalism?
Our latest research suggests quality health reporting in Australia – an important type of public interest journalism – was already under threat before the latest cutbacks, and before mis- and disinformation about the pandemic infected the internet.
To stem the haemorrhage of public interest journalism, the Morrison government has announced a pandemic relief package for Australian media, including a A$50 million Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program. The government will support commercial television, newspaper and radio businesses that produce “quality news, particularly in remote and regional Australia”. Yet details about what constitutes public interest journalism and how it will be adequately supported remain sketchy.