The Federal Nationals in Government are giving grants to small country newspapers to support their sustainability.

Federal Nationals Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said four small publishers in his electorate would share in more than $440,000, providing a welcome boost to local journalism.

“I’m thrilled that the Gilgandra Weekly, Condobolin Argus, Coonabarabran Times and Coonamble Times will be able to invest in new technology and grow their operations,” Mr Coulton said.

“In particular, the Gilgandra Weekly has received a significant grant of $232,920 towards their project, which will upgrade printing equipment and develop their digital presence.”

The publications are among 62 small and regional publishers across Australia to share in around $9 million of funding under the Government’s Regional Grant Opportunity program.

“It’s important that people in my electorate stay informed, and often their local newspaper is their main source of news,” Mr Coulton said.

“These four publications have demonstrated a solid business case to increase publishing activities for our region and I congratulate each of them on their success.”

In the digital age the traditional newspaper sector is facing profound and continuing change and this funding will help regional publishers invest for the future.

The Regional Grant Opportunity program is overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which received 113 applications for the grants.

Each application was assessed according to three merit criteria: public interest journalism; editorial policy and complaints handling process; and the quality of the business case. Of the 62 grant recipients, 25 will be funded in full and 37 will be part funded.

Eighteen local newspapers will get funding in New South Wales, as part of the $60.4 million Regional and Small Publishers Jobs and Innovation Package delivered as part of the Government’s 2017 media sector reforms.