E-petition to support public interest journalism providers

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Yanchep News Online and some other news providers around Australia are calling for readers to sign an e-petition, to be presented to the House of Representatives.

SOME news providers around Australia, including Yanchep News Online, are asking readers who want to support public interest journalism to sign an e-petition, which will be presented to the House of Representatives.

The news providers have organised the e-petition because under the News Media Bargaining Code while Google and Facebook have struck deals with a small number of media outlets they have not negotiated with the majority of Australian news providers – including a range of outlets that meet the criteria set out in the code.

The petition organisers believe designation by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is necessary for negotiation to take place.

Many readers will remember on February 18 when Facebook’s Australian News Ban affected most news providers including Yanchep News Online as most of the online news website’s traffic comes from its Facebook page.

Some readers asked Yanchep News Online what we had done wrong to get banned but it was all about Facebook flexing its muscle in the lead-up to the Morrison Government passing the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

In a joint statement on February 25 Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the media bargaining code was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Mr Frydenberg and Mr Fletcher said the code would ensure that news media businesses were fairly remunerated for the content they generated, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia.

They said the code would be reviewed by Treasury within one year of its commencement to ensure it was delivering outcomes that were consistent with the government’s policy intent.

The news providers involved with the e-petition are seeking support from their readers and the community to help them continue to produce and publish public interest journalism.

The e-petition closes at 11.59pm (AEST) on November 24.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Act 2021 refers to core news content as being content that reports, investigates or explains:

  • issues or events that are relevant in engaging Australians in public debate and in informing democratic decision-making; or
  • current issues or events of public significance for Australians at a local, regional or national level.

For a news provider to participate in the code the revised explanatory memorandum says it must have a primary purpose of creating and publishing core news content;

  • be subject to relevant professional journalistic standards; and
  • operate predominantly in Australia for the dominant purpose of serving Australian audiences.

The revised explanatory memorandum says core news content can relate directly to matters of public policy and government decision-making at any level of government.

“However, it can also include other matters of public significance, such as reporting on law and order, health, education, environmental issues, science, industrial relations and business,’’ the memorandum says.

“Reporting on community issues or events is considered core news content if they are of public significance.’’

The memorandum also says that digital platform corporations must provide registered news business corporations with advance notification of planned changes to an algorithm that will have a significant effect on covered news content.