Australian Associated Press, better known as AAP, has been saved. A doyen of the nation’s media business for more than 85 years, it has been sold to consortium of philanthropists and investors in a deal finalised on Monday 29 June.
This will keep the newswire operating and save most jobs, although the new owners say that some positions will have to be cut.
AAP employs around 500 people including reporters, photographers, sub-editors, fact-checkers and administrative personnel. The changes to the business model are expected to be in place by the end of July.
Consortium takes over the running of AAP
The consortium taking over AAP is led by sustainable investment manager Nick Harrington and philanthropist John McKinnon. A number of others are involved, including senior media executive Peter Tonagh, Fred Woollard who the MD of Samuel Terry Asset Management, and Australian Impact Investments managing director Kylie Charlton.
Harrington is heavily involved in impact investing, which is investing with the intention of generating a measurable social or environmental good in addition to a financial gain.
It is understood that the new AAP business model will be not-for-profit and will be governed by a board.
Protect diversity through independent 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”.
According to industry publication Ad News,the terms of the sale have not been released. Some reports put the price as low as $1, but any buyer would have to prove it had the capital, around $10 million, to keep the newswire going and cover the cost of any redundancies.
AAP is important to Australian society, says letter
In a letter to staff, the new owners say they have the common goal of protecting media diversity in Australia.
“We feel the best way to do this is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the AAP Newswire and its provision of independent, quality journalism on issues that matter to all Australians,” the statement said.
“We believe that this has never been more important to Australian society and were concerned about the impact that AAP’s closure would have had on independent journalism, on jobs and on the viability of new entrants to the media space.”