Well, what a crazy, and quite sad few weeks it’s been in media land. With the announcement that after failed talks with ACM, News Corp is shutting down 100 of their regional and community papers, and closures of other mainstream media mainstays such as Buzzfeed and 10Daily, it seems the pool of news outlets is getting smaller and smaller.
As society has shifted to socialising, educating and working in an online environment, it seems our media consumption is moving that way as well – whether some of us like it or not.
For many regional towns, their local weekly paper tells the story of the community. The footy team wins, the school news, local job vacancies and what council is debating each week. And we can’t forget about the journalists, many young up and commers pounding the pavement hunting for stories, or seasoned journalists that were born in the town and worked at the paper for many years.
Yes, a lot of these papers are moving online, but the journalism won’t be the same. So many of those online sites are already filled with syndicated news across the country, and the passion for the local community and depth of regional news reporting just won’t be the same.
But wait… some communities are taking control of the situation and opening their own local newspapers – The Horsham Times has come in for The Wimmera Mail-Times, which is published by ACM and has halted production until July 1st because of coronavirus, and residents of Naracoorte have started their own weekly newspaper, The Naracoorte Community News to replace the suspended Naracoorte Herald.
What will rise up to fill the hole in the other 100 or so communities without the local weekly paper is a story yet to be told. We could see lots of people switch from their local paper to social media for local news or if journalists and regional media advocate Saffron Howden has her way we’ll look at co-op models to start local owned news outlets and keep quality journalism in our regions.
Whatever happens, we need to understand the role of quality local journalism not just for commerce but for local community impact. Watch this space.