Australian Community Media has welcomed global internet giant Google's commitment to fund traineeships and training for journalists covering local news in regional Australia.
In partnership with News Corp Australia, Google has announced the establishment of the Digital News Academy to provide training in digital news-gathering and publishing skills to 750 local and regional news professionals across Australia over the next three years.
The academy aims to expand the digital capabilities of journalists, editors and publishers with tuition in video and audio production and data journalism, as well as coaching in audience measurement, reader revenue, digital business models and marketing.
The program will also create opportunities for young journalists, with Google to fund 60 new 12-month journalism traineeships in Australia over the next three years.
Google head of news, web and publishing product partnerships Kate Beddoe said the academy was a significant investment in training and skills for local news in Australia.
"It builds on the work we've been doing for years in support of regional publishers," Ms Beddoe said.
"We've long partnered with the news industry in Australia, and this new initiative will benefit and support hundreds of journalists from across the Australian news industry."
ACM, Australia's largest independent media organisation and the publisher of this masthead, will be a major participant in the program, receiving both training and trainees.
ACM has already partnered with Google to curate the journalism of its 14 daily mastheads for users of Google News Showcase.
ACM managing director Tony Kendall said the Digital News Academy would provide essential skills for regional journalists at a crucial time for the local news industry.
"ACM is delighted to be involved in this initiative," Mr Kendall said.
"The ongoing training and upskilling of our editorial teams to meet the ever-changing demands of our consumers is a key priority for our business."
Mr Kendall said the recent appointment of Saffron Howden, the Google News Initiative's first Teaching Fellow for Australia and New Zealand, as ACM editorial training manager showed the company's commitment to strengthening the trusted news coverage that keeps Australia's key regional population centres informed and connected.
He applauded Google for its support for Australian news organisations to develop business models that secure the future of local journalism.
"With Saffron's experience and the global expertise brought together in this program, this bi-partisan initiative will be fantastic for ACM editorial staff and the strength of regional journalism more broadly," Mr Kendall said.
News Corp Australasia's executive chairman Michael Miller described the academy as a world-leading education program that would "strengthen and future-proof journalism in this country, especially in regional Australia".
"The partnership with Google means we will be able to bring our real world journalism experience to designing and delivering the curriculum while tapping into Google's vast knowledge of content that resonates with audiences and the resources they have developed working with news organisations globally for many years," Mr Miller said.
From early 2022, some 250 journalists and news professionals a year from the nation's smallest and largest newsrooms will be offered online tutorials and other training experiences on the latest innovations in reporting and digital storytelling.
A range of small and regional publishers from across the country will be invited to participate.
"By ensuring these independent voices continue to be heard we will improve people's lives - whether by highlighting injustices, campaigning on important causes, holding local government to account, or simply following the local footy team's ups and downs," News Corp's Mr Miller said.
Under the landmark News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code passed by federal parliament at the end of February, Google and Facebook are required to make commercial agreements to pay Australian news businesses for their content or risk hefty fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual revenues.