Some pre-Xmas news for fans of locally-led independent media, with 12 new media publications to launch from Fishburners and Google News Initiative Bootcamp

In the wake of Australia’s inaugural Google News Initiative Startups Bootcamp (GNI) the US internet monster and the Aussie startup community, Fishburners, have built a new layer of content makers ready to roll out for 2023.

After a nine-week incubation-bootcamp-thingy – which was probably extremely painful but also fun, like maybe a good season of Masterchef (but for local media) – there emerged 12 successful media startups.

Here’s a brief selection of the successful brands which are seeking to – in the words of Martin Karafilis, CEO of Fishburners – “amplify a range of diverse communities and voices.”

● Nak-ed is New Zealand’s first women’s lifestyle publication for sexual wellness, sexuality, diversity, inclusion, and mental health, aimed at breaking taboo subjects in a fun and engaging manner.
● Brunswick Voice is a volunteer-run hyperlocal digital news publication, servicing the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, with the vision of creating a model that can be replicated to reestablish independent and credible regional media nationally.
● The Defrag is a news and analysis publication exploring the intersection of technology, business, politics, and science in a way that is not US-centric.
● Ag Tech Talks is a tech focused podcast aimed at improving the baseline and product knowledge of farmers by explaining and simplifying agricultural tech products on the market.
● The Anchor is a short-form comedy news show aimed at educating and entertaining Gen Zs and hosted by Douglas, an animated Great Dane.

Mark Phillips, founder of Brunswick Voice, says the title grew out of a frustration left by the closure of all local newspapers.

“Local media plays multiple roles in fostering democratic accountability and encouraging social connections. Audiences want local knowledge, intimacy, trust, and connections. Local advertisers want a platform to connect directly with their immediate marketplace.

How to make 12 new media brands in nine weeks

So the approach to bring together an array of voices from around the Aussie-Kiwi region is no mean feat.

The fully remote professional development program offered support to aspiring news media entrepreneurs in Australia or New Zealand, via seminars and one-on-one coaching from Sinorbis CMO Vijay Solanki, BindiMaps co-founder Tony Burrett, and Stem Media co-founder Emily Dawson.

To get the ball rolling the participants were provided access to a unique curriculum based on the GNI Startups Playbook, published in partnership with top industry practitioners and a bunch of respected media thinkers, doers and entrepreneurs in the news space.

At the same time coaching and guidance was on tap from Fishburners across the myriad challenges of getting the ship off the ground and establishing a viable media startup which can grow on its own.

Access, support and membership

They additionally gained access to a complimentary one-year Pro Membership to Fishburners Founders Hub, offering startup perks and discounts, community connections, tools, resources, mentoring, events, and investor connections.

So, 2022 was the first time in Australia and New Zealand since launching globally in 2020, with over 50 news media startups having already graduated from the program across North America and Canada.

Martin Karafilis says that while the barriers to entry for new media startups are now lower than ever, more competition from alternative platforms and decentralised content creation have concurrently made successfully building a large, sustainable audience increasingly higher.

“Without new media startups, Australia faces a lack of diversity and representation, causing further disengagement with independent and credible media.

“With so many specialist and local businesses building back after lockdown, there are plenty of opportunities for smaller startups in particular to service the needs of local and specific audiences,” Karafillis.

“We hope that with the GNI Startup Bootcamp coaching, these new media startups will go on to take the media landscape by storm, and help to elevate a greater variety of diverse voices and perspectives.”

New and diverse voices play an important role in the news ecosystem, offering diversity in the stories told and filling information gaps, according to Shilpa Jhunjhunwala, head of ANZ News Partnerships & APAC Program Management of Google.

“The curriculum was adapted specifically to address the realities of operating in Australia and New Zealand and supports our mission of helping contribute to a thriving, diverse and innovative news ecosystem in both countries.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Fishburners, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.