Welcome to this week’s editorial, The big news this week is the merger of Nine and Fairfax .
There are many who are concerned as to what this will bring for regional readers in the South East who rely on local newspapers and radio to cover the small but very important news of a community. We have already witnessed the considerable watering down of local print news as Fairfax papers begin to regurgitate non-local news up and down the coast. We now sees article first published and relevant only to the Shoalhaven or Bega passed on as being “Eurobodalla” news, or for that matter at a more local level with Batemans Bay news and editorials finding their way into the pages of Narooma News for Narooma readers. Narooma readers are missing their ex-editor Stan Gorton as he had crafted the Narooma News for his own community. Locals now just shake their heads at their loss. To buy a Wednesday edition of the Bay Post, the Moruya Examiner and the Narooma News is to nearly buy the same publication as they now share editorials, letters to the editors and the many provided media/publicity releases that come from council and community groups. What were once independent papers that were truly representative of each community have now become a convenient clone of cut and paste that further diminishes the unique warp and weft of individual communities up and down the coast. The websites are very much the same as well. This might sound harsh however the proof of the matter is there for all to see and it has become more than evident by example that nearly half of the page area of the local papers carries advertising. From week to week there appears to be less and less content and photos submitted seem to grow larger and larger to accommodate otherwise empty space. In the end it is the Fairfax reading community that is the loser as they are denied access to the pantheon of news that is available if only resources allowed. Fairfax have already savagely culled their journalist staff and many, including our own local reporters are on two and three day weeks. The financial model of Fairfax has taken a massive tumble as advertising revenues are gobbled up by Google and Facebook. Regional papers, on their financial slide, have been supported by Big City to ensure mastheads remain however regional mastheads are beginning to tumble as readers move away from traditional print media and turn to the internet for their news. While the local Fairfax papers have adopted a web presence these perform poorly as they are restricted in “releasing” latest news for fear of not selling subsequent print editions. Sites behind paywalls have added to the exodus. The big question now will be will Nine recognise the crucial role that these regional papers play and the importance they have on the lives of regional and rural communities who rely on papers for local news, for local issues and for the local social interplay that drives a community ? We need Fairfax. We need them to be better resourced so they can return to providing quality news and carrying out much needed investigative journalism at a local level. We need Nine to recognise that; else the impact ahead will see us left further in the dark and further mis-informed and alienated than ever.
Until next , Lei