The announced closure of several regional newspapers has prompted the release of $5 million in federal government funding to “help keep local communities informed” during the coronavirus crisis.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says the fund has been adjusted “so money is available as quickly as possible to help publishers keep journalists in jobs and local communities informed”.

“Many media organisations, particularly those in regional areas, are facing significant financial strain due to the community’s necessary response to COVID-19,” Mr Fletcher said on Monday.

“As we face these unprecedented challenges together, the media’s role in producing quality news and providing Australians with timely and accurate information is crucial. This provides critical support at a time it’s needed most.”

The funding has been brought forward from the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund, with the latest round open to regional and metropolitan publishers and content service providers “producing public interest journalism”.

Multiple regional papers have announced their closure during the coronavirus crisis because of the closure of businesses and lack of local advertising, while other mastheads within the News Corp organisation have been taken online, with no more print editions.