| posted on November 7, 2019
OUT of 113 submissions from media-based companies throughout Australia seeking innovation funding grants, the Weekender was the only successful applicant in WA.
The company will receive more than $380,000, a significant investment from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.
The grant will enable the Weekender to innovate and increase its online capacity.
Editor Ian Beeck said it was reassuring that ACMA saw the company as contemporary and relevant and willing to invest almost the maximum amount ($400,000) under the guidelines.
“There were 113 applications received for the round of funding, and 62 were successful with the Weekender being the only one in WA,” he said.
Mr Beeck said the 18-month project will allow the Weekender to move from delivering news through print and radio only to a digitally-enabled multi-channel delivery that reaches a wider demographic with real-time news and information available 24 hours a day.
This will result in an increase in audience numbers and improvements in revenue flow.
The project will also enable the Weekender to deliver regionally relevant news to an increased number of communities within the Great Southern that do not currently receive a paper distribution.
Mr Beeck said it will enable news and information to be delivered to a broader demographic, meeting the needs of the younger generation who prefer to receive their news in a digital format whilst still meeting those who prefer a printed newspaper.
“It will also enable the Weekender to develop new revenue streams for news and information increasing the offering to advertisers,” he said.
There will be technology upgrades, staff training, and the ability for audience analytics and subscriber management.
A Digital News Report Australia in 2018 stated that for the first time, Australians’ use of online news has surpassed traditional offline news sources.
Almost 60 per cent of Australians are using their smart phones to access news.
The Weekender commenced operations in 1993.
It is WA’s largest independent newspaper delivered free to more than 21,000 households and businesses throughout the Great Southern.
It also runs two radio stations, 88 Fly FM and Gold MX 1611 AM, acquired in 2014.
The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund (the Innovation Fund) was established by the Government to support regional and small publishers to transition to and compete more successfully in the evolving media environment.
The Innovation Fund is designed to preserve and improve the viability of Australia’s regional and small news publishing industry in the current period of transition.
The Regional Grant Opportunity is a new grant opportunity under the Innovation Fund that is targeted at regional publishers of public interest journalism.