Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Symbiosis or Precarity? Digital Platforms’ Role on Australian Digital-Native Journalism and Their Funding Models

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Abstract:  Legacy media outlets, especially newspapers, have confronted significant challenges this century due to the shift of advertising revenues to digital platforms like Facebook and Google. Major events like the Global Financial Crisis (2007–2009) and Covid-19 pandemic intensified the financial strain, resulting in further downsizing and newsroom closures. Despite these difficulties, digital-native journalism has experienced widespread growth globally. This article explores funding models of selected digital-native journalism in Australia, drawing on platform dependency theory to address questions of what role digital technology platforms and nascent regulation have played in shaping the state of digital-native journalism in Australia. Australia’s concentrated media ownership landscape and its introduction of the world-first News Media Bargaining Code (NMBC), provide a unique backdrop to examine the economic and regulatory environment that impacts Australia’s digital-native journalism. Using a case-study approach, the research explores seven diverse digital-native news outlets over six years across three time periods: several years after the Global Financial Crisis (2017), just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic (2020–), and after the introduction of the NMBC (2023). Expert interviews provide insights into the role of digital platforms in shaping digital-only media. The digital native fail rate in this study is high (>40%). But we also find that of those that endure, the most successful placed a premium on building a distinctive brand (often through specialized reporting), adopting a diversified (hybrid) funding model, and growing audience share through trust. Most benefited from regulation in the form of the NMBC to increase newsroom resources, yet were also cautious of platform dependency.

Keywords:  Australia; digital-native journalism; Facebook; Google; journalism business models; Meta; News Media Bargaining Code; platform dependency; social media; TikTok

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.7529


© Andrea Carson, Denis Muller. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.