The future of the AAP newswire is assured with the inking of a sale to new owners who say they are driven by a desire to retain Australian media diversity.
A consortium of philanthropists and investors on Monday finalised a deal with current shareholders, including Nine and News Corp, to purchase Australian Associated Press, which has been operating for more than 85 years.
Following an announcement in March that the newswire would close, the consortium was concerned about the impact on Australian journalism and shared a desire to retain the agency.
“A desire to protect media diversity in Australia through ensuring the long-term sustainability of the AAP newswire and its provision of independent, quality journalism on issues that should matter to all Australians,” the group said in a statement of its motivation to purchase the business.
Breaking – AAP has been sold to a not-for profit consortium and will re-launch on August 1 with a team of 85, based in the Sydney CBD. #saveAAP #journalismmatters Thanks to all our fantastic supporters and three cheers for the future of independent journalism. #auspol
— Paul Osborne AAP (@osbornep) June 29, 2020
The consortium, led by Nick Harrington, is made up of a number of people including philanthropist John McKinnon, and has been supported by senior media executive Peter Tonagh.
The new-look AAP, directed by CEO Emma Cowdroy and editor Andrew Drummond, will continue to produce content including breaking and world news, sport, court and political reporting, plus photography and a FactCheck service.
The new owners have committed to retain scores of the current AAP workforce, but there will be job losses.
Changes to the business are expected to be finalised before settlement on July 31.
Still more developments to come but AAP officially goes on!
— Anna Harrington (@AnnaHarrington) June 29, 2020
Mr Cowdroy, who has previously worked as AAP’s senior legal counsel, championed news of the sale.
“This is not only great news, but it’s vital for our democracy, as public-interest journalism is more important than ever,” she said.
“Fast, factual reporting, objective news and geographical reach to all corners of Australia, is our DNA.”
Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders.
This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations.
Outgoing AAP Chairman Campbell Reid on behalf of the board paid tribute to the professionalism of staff over recent months.
“You have all stayed true to the spirit that the news is published no matter what, and this stands the newswire in great stead as it begins its next chapter. The board wishes the new team every success,” he said.