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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

A case of whining and moaning

It is becoming embarrassing. The Bay Post has now published its latest plea to be further supported with the headline: Your Paper in Peril: What the NSW government said - and didn't say - about regional newspapers This time they are bemoaning the fact that their ploy isn't working and that the NSW Premier hasn't responded to their satisfaction while the NSW Labor Leader hasn't responded at all.

It is clear from the above ACM graphic above, now splashed throughout ACM publications across the state that the Perrottet Government did respond quite matter of factly and rightly saying that "the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government recognise the importance of regional media in ensuring regional communities have access to trusted news sources covering the issues that matter to them".

They add "That’s why NSW Government agencies are required to spend at least 26% of their campaign media expenditure on media platforms targeting regional audiences for advertising campaigns of relevance to regional and remote communities. This ensures important government messages for regional NSW are targeted to the communities they are speaking to.

Their message is clear "We want a strong regional media" As to why the Labor leader hasn't responded? There is no need to. The government of the day has already said they were committed to regional news advertising. The 2020 determination to publish approved development applications in the local press was made because the process was redundant; given the applications had been processed and the time for submissions was over. As it is all councils now offer full disclosure of approved development applications and pending applications on their websites. Why would anyone rely on a newspaper to deliver wat is accurately at hand from the principle source? It is important to note that the "Dark days are coming" and "the sky is falling" campaign by ACM is only coming from ACM. Where are the demands from the many independent outlets across the state, or for that matter the country? If you look across the state there is a major move away from mainstream newspapers as they dump mastheads, clone articles across wide regions, and venture behind paywalls while reducing their content as well as their printed publications by way of numbers per week or number of pages. Independent papers are rising to the occasion and delivering quality hyperlocal news. This has been recognised by the NSW Liberal and Nationals Government who recently announced a new $3 million Regional Media Fund. This fund will assist regional media outlets to drive innovation, tell stories in new ways and ensure that our communities have access to the news and information they need about the issues affecting them. There is little doubt that any future elected government will also support and follow this initiative. It doesn't require a policy. This is the government support one would expect to ensure regional and rural media continues to engage, inform and include their respective communities. Quality regional and rural media. If a company fails to deliver that then either they improve or fold.

The 2020 changes that ACM bemoan actually gave councils greater flexibility in the way they publish certain notices, recognising changes to the media landscape and allowing individual councils rather than Government to make the decision on how to communicate most effectively with their communities. Eurobodalla and Bega councils have showcased how they have stepped up their engagement with the community, all the while supporting local media including ACM with notices and advertising. The Bay Post , owned by ACM, says 'The Perrottet government has defended the way it currently promotes NSW government services on "media platforms targeting regional audiences" but offered no assurance that local newspapers serving regional communities will see guaranteed advertising spending that supports local journalism and jobs". What they want is full page adverts every week that look like these examples they present from Victoria:

Maybe, instead of demanding the NSW State government support them they might look to Harvey Norman to buy their front page instead, as is the trend being shown by the ACM owned Canberra Times. Maybe they should demand that Harvey Norman have a policy, or Telstra or nbn, or even the Federal liberal party who they happily provided front page advertising to.

July 1st, 2019 marked Day One for the old Fairfax mastheads of the Bay Post, Moruya Examiner and Narooma News as they officially come under new ownership joined by the 170 or so Australian Community Media (ACM) titles that were sold off by 9NINE to former Fairfax executive Antony Catalano and ASX-listed Thorney Investment Group for $115 million. On July 1st, 2019 the ACM boss Allen Williams told staff "The stage is now set for a bright and independent future and we will be working closely with our new owners to build on the enormous strengths we have as a business." "While our ownership has changed, our values as a business will remain the same. We will be open to new opportunities but mindful of the responsibility we have to readers and advertisers in every state and territory. We will be innovative and we will be nimble. But we will never forget that the strength of our business is in the deep ties we have to our communities." It appears that they have failed to be nimble and that the strength of their business is in the deep ties they have to their communities. Because of this people just aren't buying their papers or their pleas of being hardly done by.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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