Murray Bridge News will open an office, hire a second journalist
Your local news service will receive a grant from the Facebook Australian News Fund and – separately – will join a new Local and Independent News Association.
Murray Bridge’s independent local news service is on track to keep growing.
The Walkley Foundation announced on Tuesday night that Murray Bridge News was among the successful applicants to the 2022 round of the Facebook Australian News Fund.
The funding from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, will allow Murray Bridge News to tell more local stories by hiring a part-time journalist in the coming months.
The grant will also cover part of the cost of opening an office in Murray Bridge, at a location yet to be determined.
Since Murray Bridge News’ launch in April 2020, managing editor Peri Strathearn – the author of this story and its only employee – has published from a home office.
Walkley Foundation CEO Shona Martyn said the Facebook funding would have a profound impact at a time when regional journalism face was in a state of flux, and facing unprecedented financial challenges.
“This week’s devastating floods in Queensland and northern New South Wales illustrate the importance of having a strong on-the-ground media presence in regional locations who have an intimate understanding of the area and its people,” she said.
The Facebook Australian News Fund will distribute $5 million to 54 news organisations and freelance journalists this year, and another $10 million over the next two years.
Meta had already struck funding deals with a number of larger news companies over the past two years, including Australian Community Media, publisher of The Murray Valley Standard.
But news partnerships lead Andrew Hunter said Meta wanted to support small regional, rural and digital newsrooms as well.
“We think it’s essential that these newsrooms are economically sustainable so they can continue to tell the stories of their communities,” he said.
The federal government has threatened to make both Facebook and Google pay news publishers using its News Media Bargaining Code, which became law in 2021; but has so far waited to see if those companies will offer funding on their own terms.
Murray Bridge News becomes founding member of new Local and Independent News Association
Meanwhile, Murray Bridge News is also getting in on the ground level of a new association for independent, local Australian publishers.
The Local and Independent News Association, launched on Monday, will help “hyper-local” news organisations around the country survive and grow.
It was created in response to research by the Judith Neilson Institute and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia which found that many small publishers needed help to grow revenue and use technology more effectively.
The association will give Murray Bridge News access to expert advice, third-party services, workshops, conferences and other resources: all the back-end stuff that will help your local news service grow and become more sustainable.
That, in turn, will help Murray Bridge News achieve its mission: creating community, empowering local people, and sharing positive stories about the Murraylands.
“Hyperlocal news outlets, new and legacy, are vital to Australian democracy and culture,” JNI executive director Mark Ryan said.
“They tell the stories that matter to local communities, advocate for them and contribute to social and community cohesion.
“Often these organisations are teams of two or three people who simply don’t have the existing experience, or the time, to build their businesses in the most efficient and effective way possible, but they have a clear vision and passion for covering the stories that matter to their community.”
Murray Bridge News wouldn’t exist without your support
On that note, I want to take a moment here to thank everyone who has contributed to Murray Bridge News’ success to this point.
That includes my patient and supportive family; Substack, which has provided funding to this news service through its Substack Local program; and the Walkley Foundation, which facilitated a mentorship for me by the extremely knowledgeable and well connected Simon Crerar of PS Media.
More importantly, though, I want to thank the hundreds of local people who have become paying subscribers to Murray Bridge News over the past 22 months.
A subscription might only be $5 a month, but it enables me to share local stories that might otherwise never be told, and remains Murray Bridge News’ main source of revenue.
If you haven’t taken the leap just yet, I encourage you to show your support for this local business.
Thanks again – I appreciate it.
More information about Murray Bridge News: www.murraybridge.news/about.
You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, from just $5 a month.