The future of the Australian Associated Press (AAP) newswire has been 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 AAP, 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.
The group said in a statement of its motivation to purchase the business that it had, “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 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 chief executive 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 ahead of settlement on July 31.
Ms 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.