Quality Media Backers Deserve A Break


Today members of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation called on the federal government to introduce tax deductibility for philanthropic and other donations to non-profit media groups that produce quality journalism in the public interest.

Foundation spokesperson Bill Birnbauer says, "We are in a time of incredible transition in the media and what is needed now is a recognition that meeting the information needs of communities is no longer the sole responsibility of newspapers.

"The problem we face needs to be reframed from one of ‘saving’ newspapers to finding new ways of preserving the core of quality journalism on a variety of digital platforms."

Birnbauer is researching US non-profit journalism and has found that tax deductibility had contributed to an explosion in the number of not-for-profit media organisations in that country. New Matilda would be an obvious beneficiary of such a proposal and we endorse the PIJF’s promotion of philanthropic investment in public interest journalism.

Dear Senator Conroy,

We write as members of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation, which was established in 2009 with a broad brief to develop new approaches to journalism that "maximise and explore the applications of emerging media technologies". The Foundation is an independent organisation, whose members include journalists, academics and community members.

The current upheaval in the newspaper industry in Australia has brought the Foundation’s mission into sharp focus, given the importance of an effective media for an accountable, informed and engaged democracy.

We write to request a meeting with you to discuss ways that your Government may be able to help contribute to a more sustainable, innovative and accountable media industry in the digital age.

Specifically, we would like the opportunity to discuss the matters raised in the attached news release calling for mechanisms to promote philanthropic support for public interest journalism, such as tax deductibility for not-for-profit media organisations or for journalistic investigations.

This measure has contributed to the growth of not-for-profit media organisations in the US, some of which are producing excellent work. We note that under section 12.94 of the Finkelstein report, the author pointed to the creation of The Global Mail and added that "to encourage similar initiatives, philanthropists could be allowed to claim a tax deduction for a portion of donations for the establishment of new non-profit news venture and/or assist funding of their operations”.

We also urge your Government to develop mechanisms for supporting digital innovation in public interest journalism, such as adopting the future of an informed citizenry as a national priority for Australian Research Council funding, and establishing seed grants for research on journalistic innovation, and support for collaborations between journalists and other sectors of civil society.

We look forward to your response.

Bill Birnbauer, Bronwen Clune, Elaine Henry, Gerard Noonan, Don Perlgut, Margaret Simons, Melissa Sweet and Julian Thomas

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.