The ABC will fast-track the recruitment of up to 40 regional reporters, producers and presenters under its Connecting Communities initiative, first announced in March 2017.
The initiative has been announced today to coincide with news of an organisational restructure (see our other report).
Originally planned for completion by July 2018, the fast track recruitment will create up to 80 new content roles as part of a $15.4 million annual funding boost to strengthen the ABC’s coverage and services in rural and regional Australia.
Approximately $4 million is also being invested by the ABC in new tools and equipment for regional teams across the country to enhance video and digital reporting for local and national audiences.
ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie says accelerating the Connecting Communities initiative will result in greater local coverage for regional Australians across platforms and across the week:
“Connecting Communities will increase our regional workforce by almost 20% which allows our reporters to spend more time in the field covering local stories that may also be of state and national interest. We’ve received feedback that Australians want to hear, read and watch more news and information about their community and be part of national conversations.
“We are developing local weekly newsletters and expanding weekend coverage from regional Australia, as well as enabling our reporters to spend time in some of the most remote parts of this country.
“Our commitment to regional Australia continues to grow. Last month, we announced a $1 million investment in live audio streaming services to enable an additional 19 regional communities to listen to their local radio stations online and via mobile. In September, we announced ABC Weather – an initiative which explores the science behind weather events, their impact on the landscape and people.
“Today marks an important milestone for the ABC and for regional audiences – as we are continuing to expand our coverage and services in regional Australia at a time when some media outlets are scaling back,” Guthrie said.
Connecting Communities was announced in March as part of the ABC’s Investing in Audiences strategy.