What a difference a year makes. It’s hard to believe it’s already March and our country has been battling COVID-19 for the past 12 months. March also means that the first term of the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) is drawing to a close.
Publishers have been inquiring about the next cycle of the LJI and how to apply for funding. At present, News Media Canada and six other administrator organizations are awaiting the decisions of the Minister of Canadian Heritage regarding renewal of our respective programs. Our initial agreements were for a two-year term, and the Minister’s decision will determine whether we will continue for the remaining three years of the five-year Initiative.
The decision, if affirmative, will also include the parameters of the next cycle—details that are required before we can move forward with the next call for applications.
With April 1 fast approaching, we are aware of the ramifications of a delayed launch, especially on the employment of current LJI reporters, and have communicated the urgency to Heritage officials. Unfortunately, we cannot proceed with the new program without the Minister’s approval.
Like you, we hope to hear a positive decision from the Minister soon, at which time we will move quickly with the call for applications. We will be inviting applications for both new projects and renewals and are looking at ways to simplify the application process for those seeking renewal.
At this time, we are not expecting an increase in funding, and given the high level of interest, the anticipated volume of applications may well exceed what we can fund. As a result, we do not expect to be able to renew all current projects or approve all new applications, and the LJI judging panel will have to make some difficult decisions.
Earlier this week, News Media Canada contacted the publishers of current LJI host news organizations, asking them to indicate their interest in applying for renewal. This non-binding expression of interest will help our LJI staff to focus their efforts as they prepare for the next cycle.
New applicants and others wishing to be notified of the next call for applications are welcome to subscribe to the LJI newsletter here. Further updates and announcements about the LJI will be posted on the News Media Canada website and distributed in our newsletters.