ABC to add more than 50 journalists in Regional Australia

New deal with Facebook & Google leads to 50 more journalists, some in areas where ABC has had no presence.

The ABC has announced an additional 50-plus journalist roles in regional locations as a result of deals struck with Facebook and Google.

An agreement was signed with Facebook this week and follows an agreement reached with Google last month.

ABC currently employs around 550 content makers in its 48 regional bureaux, with a 10% lift from the new roll-out.

Journalists will go into the areas where they were needed most and would have the most impact.

Starting next week, ABC will begin placing journalists in more than 20 locations in all states and the Northern Territory with all positions expected to be filled by early 2022. Some positions will be located in existing ABC regional bureaux and others will be placed in areas that have not had an ABC presence before.

Five ‘mini-bureaus’ will be trialled in Warragul, Batemans Bay, Carnarvon, Hervey Bay and Charleville.

Individual reporters will be placed in Swan Hill, Whyalla, Victor Harbor, Northam and Gladstone where there are currently no ABC reporters based.

Regional hubs that serve large areas will also get additional support in Horsham, Burnie, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Katherine, Esperance, Karratha, Longreach and Toowoomba.

Reporters will also be embedded for limited times in other, more remote locations while new national specialist rounds will cover topics such as water, mining, social affairs and health.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson said, “We decided at the very start of these negotiations that any net revenue we received from these deals would go where it is needed most – and that is in regional Australia.

“We want to provide greater coverage of regional stories in areas that are under-served by the media or are in news deserts. Extra regional services are a great way to start 2022, our 90th year, and this announcement is fitting given the ABC’s relationship with rural and regional Australia over those nine decades.”

In the first 12 months of the roll out, the ABC will run a series of pilots to inform longer term planning. All positions and placements will be reviewed towards the end of 2022. The initiatives build on the investment the ABC made in regional Australia in 2017 when it put in 83 additional positions to support the upgrade of its regional bureaux to multimedia hubs.

Regional youth initiative ABC Heywire also benefits, with plans to embed teams in regional locations, starting in Victoria and focusing on the stories and issues impacting young people in the region.

9 Responses

  1. … and speaking of “a bit odd”, I’ve just looked at the ABC Jobs page and all of these positions are “Fixed Term” for 9 months … how do they expect people to commit to a move to the bush under those circumstances?

  2. And how will the ABC present their relatively new diversity of regional news content? will it be regularly featured on ABC News 24, which still finds itself focused on Melbourne and Sydney because their big studios are situated there, I would say that ABC News presenter Joe O’Brien will have personally visited most of these far flung regional places. Having said that I do note that the recent Qld floods have proven how useful rural reporters can be, but in ‘normal’ times what local news events will justify the cost of the ABC’s regional news service, unless the segments are being done specifically with Facebook and Google streaming in mind, something which ABC’s iView can potentially do just as well.

      1. … and this once again just goes to show how city-based people don’t understand the purpose of the ABC’s regional outposts … they aren’t there to provide news reports to the ABC’s city consumers … they’re there to provide local news and information to their local audience … a principle that was almost lost in the 2015 “regional restructure” where all of the long-serving Regional Content Managers were made redundant and replaced by a “news-based” Chief of Staff who was required to be a “journalist” and given the instruction to “identify content that could travel across regions and nationally” as a priority rather than just serve the local community’s needs … fortunately the change at the top in 2016 managed to rein some of that in, but regional operations are still not what they were before that and the collapse of ABC local radio ratings immediately after the “restructure” reflected that …

    1. A bit odd indeed. I find ABC24 has far more regional reports – well this week anyway – than Sydney/Melbourne news. Local ABC radio is pretty much the only source of local news here in ‘regional’ Wollongong. Perhaps SCA could redirect some of their $10M cash-for-no-news handout.

  3. … and you would have thought that most reasonable people would applaud this, I certainly do, particularly after ABC regional outposts have had to bear the brunt of resources being cut back to fund the expansion of city-based news since the introduction of the unbudgeted, unfunded ABC News Channel in 2010 , but Jon Faine probably puts the view of the city-centric ABC dwellers, writing in the SMH/Age about the newly-refreshed ABC Board “… the distortions forced onto the news and current affairs division by that same board’s diversion of scarce resources to regional bureaus” … some people just don’t get it do they? maybe the ABC should introduce mandatory service in a regional outpost before allowing staff to enter the hallowed halls of Ultimo or Southbank, with a refresher posting every couple of years to remind them of what the real world is like beyond Leichhardt or Toorak !!!

    1. I think most people who enjoy watching the News on the ABC do get it, the News is where the politics is and that politics is mostly in the metropolitan areas. If Deputy PM Barnarby Joyce spends all his time in rural NSW or Qld. local journalists would probably have to stand aside for the big city media who will follow him around. Regional stories regarding mouse plagues, reported missing persons or murder cases have had a lot of coverage recently, but it’s mostly droughts, extreme weather events like bush fires, cyclones, tornadoes and large hail storms that get the most broadcast time, but this is not every week, though reporting extreme weather events is a good segue to discuss climate change; a common thread for the ABC. ABC radio especially AM stations broadcasting into regional areas should be more diverse and better focused on issues involving regional communities and local government authorities. All ABC regional resources should be busy during the coming Federal Election.

      1. … “the News” is also the local school fete or the fundraiser for the local Lions club … it ain’t all about “politics” … and “politics is mostly in the metropolitan areas”??? there are politicians in the bush you know!!! ABC regional resources are always “busy” doing local coverage of local issues for the local audience … that’s why they’re there …

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