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13 NZ publishers join Meta Aotearoa Audience Development Accelerator

Meta has announced that 13 news organisations will take part in the Meta Aotearoa Audience Development Accelerator beginning in March.

The programme includes associated grant funding to help participating publishers implement new initiatives learned from the Accelerator. The selected organisations serve diverse communities across New Zealand.

“We are proud to announce these dynamic and varied group of participants – serving Māori, regional, digital and diverse communities – as they embark on Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Audience Development Accelerator,” says Andrew Hunter, Meta’s News Partnerships Lead for Australia and New Zealand.

“This world-class program is platform agnostic and focused on wider strategies and the digital transition of newsrooms. It has made a real difference in improving the sustainability of local newsrooms across the globe. We’ve heard positive feedback from New Zealand publishers, like The New Zealand Herald, The Spinoff and Newsroom, who attended the earlier Accelerator programs. We’re delighted to extend this new program to 13 further publishers today.”

The Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group of five experts from across New Zealand’s media industry reviewed applicant submissions alongside members of the Meta Journalism Project to decide on the 13 participants.

“This is a fantastic cross-section of traditional and new media that all play a hugely important part in keeping New Zealanders from all walks of life informed, something that is very crucial at this time,” says Brodie Kane, an entrepreneur, award-winning journalist and member of the Advisory Group.

“They will all draw from each other and learn a great deal, which we will all benefit from.”

Joining Kane in the Advisory Group are Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison; AUT University communications academic Khairiah Rahman; media expert Rick Neville; and media consultant and former MediaWorks’ News Director Hal Crawford.

They’ll work with the following 13 participants:

  • Ashburton Guardian
  • Capsule
  • Crux Publishing
  • Indian Weekender
  • Local Matters
  • Mandarin Pages
  • Māori Television
  • MediaWorks
  • Otago Daily Times
  • Pacific Media Network
  • Radio Bay of Plenty
  • Shit You Should Care About
  • The Wairarapa Times-Age

Advisory Group member Khairiah Rahman says: “Collectively, publishers in this group contribute to the rich social tapestry of New Zealand media. They are well-known for authentic representations of their communities and deserve to benefit from a targeted digital expansion to leverage their strengths.” 

What’s next for these publishers? 

The Audience Development Accelerator is built on four key pillars:

  1. Virtual workshops featuring expert instruction and hands-on exercises
  2. Weekly calls with a dedicated, world-class expert coach
  3. Funding to execute projects using inspiration from the program
  4. A community of shared practice which supports progress by sharing lessons learned

Over the 10-week training programme, expert coaches will help participants optimise their audience development strategies from increasing their reach to new audiences, deepening engagement with existing audiences and generating new paying supporters, depending on the publisher’s needs. 

Publishers will then apply for grant funding, provided by Meta and distributed by the International Center for Journalists, to apply the lessons learned in the program over the following three months. The Advisory Group will again guide the assessment of the grant funding applications. Teams will share their outcomes in May 2022. 

The Accelerator programme is led by Blue Engine Collaborative, a consortium of mission-driven consultants and advisors focused on driving digital audience growth and revenue, founded by Tim Griggs, a former New York Times and Texas Tribune executive. 

Publishers in the Meta Journalism Project’s Accelerator programme have reported almost $75 million in customer lifetime value over the last three years. The 331 participating newsrooms, totalling more than 1,400 individual participants, reported gaining close to 365,000 new paying supporters from more than 3.8 million new registered audience members during 23 programmes around the world. 

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