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DGR status could safeguard vulnerable news sector

12 October 2022 at 8:50 pm
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
Australia’s news industry continues to be impacted by COVID-19, but a sector leader argues that obtaining DGR status for public interest journalism could offer protection.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 12 October 2022 at 8:50 pm


DGR status could safeguard vulnerable news sector
12 October 2022 at 8:50 pm

Australia’s news industry continues to be affected by COVID-19, renewing calls for DGR status for public interest journalism.

The Australian news industry remains vulnerable to the ongoing economic fallout of COVID-19, the sector experiencing the third largest market contraction within a single quarter since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the latest quarterly Australian News Data Report from the Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI), at least 11 mastheads across the country, including the Inner East Review, Wollondilly Advertiser and Emerald Regional News, have closed as a result of print cost increases driven by global supply chain disruptions. 

The findings suggest that many of these publications, which were based in regional and remote areas of the country, have been disproportionately affected by the volatility of the news sector and price increases.

PIJI’s chief executive officer Anna Draffin believes that one way the news sector can protect itself against ongoing external shocks is through the introduction of a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) category specifically designed for public interest journalism. 

DGR status would enable eligible non-profit news organisations to receive donations from the public which can be deducted from the donor’s income tax, providing a much-needed funding stream and increasing opportunities for grants and philanthropy.

“PIJI’s latest data shows that almost 25 per cent of local government areas have fewer outlets now than at the beginning of 2019. Regional and remote areas, particularly in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia have lower news density,” said Draffin. 

“A DGR category for public interest journalism could assist community-led responses to gaps in news supply.”

Data released by the Institute for Nonprofit News, an American-based non-profit news alliance, shows a decade’s growth in news non-profits and projects local outlets will make up the majority of non-profit news organisations in 2024. Roughly four in 10 non-profit news organisations in the United States are local, which has doubled from about two in 10 in 2017.

While the supply of public interest journalism can vary greatly across regions, Draffin argues that understanding the intersection between factors including the volume, delivery format, scale, diversity, content quality and geographical relevance to the health of news is crucial to the outcome of potential reform.

“For policy reform to be effective, it’s vital to understand all these different factors and their interplay,” she said. 

“Over three years of data collection, our data has drawn a clear picture of ongoing market instability that can impact news supply and its plurality and diversity. We have found 27 local government areas without local digital or print news. These affected areas are all rural or remote with low population densities, and therefore are commercially unviable.

“Continuing sector volatility could be reduced through growth of non-profit models, servicing geographical markets that are commercially unviable.”

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at

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