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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

ACM: Crying poor again but without substance

Once again Australian Community Media (owners of the Bay Post and Narooma News) are crying poor. Having already halved the size of their paper to just 16 pages, having reduced the Bay Post to once weekly and having put up their price to "cover the cost of newsprint", the publisher wants more from the government, even after the recent $10.3 million hand out to support the increase in publishing costs. This time the publisher has splashed the front pages of most of its regional papers including the Bay Post with the headline: 'Your Paper in Peril: How council notices in the local newspaper are 'improving transparency and accountability'

The Bay Post and Narooma News suggest that there are Dark Days Ahead for communities across NSW. They explain by saying: "These are perilous times for the newspapers that have served NSW towns, cities and regions for, in some cases, more than 150 years.

"Higher prices for newsprint, rising costs of production and distribution and cut-throat competition for ad revenue from foreign-owned digital giants have pushed many long-standing papers to breaking point. The NSW newspapers of the ACM network - Australia's largest publisher of regional news and the owner of this website - are not asking for grants or handouts.

"Instead, we're asking Mr Perrottet and Mr Minns to show they care about the future of regional newspapers and the communities we serve by committing to measures that get state government and local councils supporting trusted local news sources through advertising". The example of advertising that they are looking for to fill a weekly page of their news print is described by this graphic:

What ACM want now is a guarantee that no less than one full page of NSW government advertising like the examples above, that will be booked each week in every local paper in the state. They say "We're asking Mr Perrottet and Mr Minns to show they care about the future of regional newspapers and the communities we serve by committing to measures that get state government and local councils supporting trusted local news sources through advertising. It is surprising that the Bay Post and Narooma News have published this given the years of support and continuing support provided by the Eurobodalla Council in providing a full page, weekly, of its Noticeboard for its print editions. The Bay Post has offered the click bait of 'Ratepayers Right to Know: Why Council notices in your newspaper matter'. The article, when opened talks about a Northern NSW council.

Above: Ratepayers' right to know what? Approved DAs? Why, when Eurobodalla Council provides a full list of all approved and all pending on Council's website HERE Right to know council decisions? Eurobodalla issues media releases that advise of upcoming agendas and the motions approved that go unpublished by ACM. Maybe it is ACM limiting the public's right to know given that other independent news outlets such as the Moruya Mail and The Beagle publish all of Council's communications. This headline gives a disrespect to their own local Council and to local readers. It fails to provide the facts that are relevant to the Eurobodalla. One of the facts that is not conveyed is that the Council Noticeboard, whilst printed in the weekly mastheads, is not published on their websites. And if it was it would be behind a paywall. It is little wonder that anyone wanting to read the latest weekly Noticeboard goes directly to the Council website or to The Beagle. Is their intention to only print the State Government ads as well and rely on Google Advertising on their websites for revenue as they do now? ACM also want a reversal of the 2020 regulatory change allowing local councils to publish public notices about their planning decisions on their websites rather than openly advertise them in the local paper? Note: that this is an odd request given that the applications will have been finalised. It is also an odd request given that each and every Council makes available their Development Application register that publicly details every approved development application along with every current application. ACM basically is bemoaning that the community is all the poorer due to the removal of the requirement for local governments to notify ratepayers of approved DAs in 2020 along with the notification of other council activity in their town's local paper. ACM claim that the April 2020 amendment to the Local Government Act allowing councils to "bury notices about their decisions on their websites" had stripped more than $2million in annual revenue from dozens of papers. Possibly the primary cause of their loss of revenue is that they offer scant news in their print editions that are quite often cloned pieces across the mastheads in the region. Publishing a state or local government full page weekly along with a list of approved development applications is not going to save these papers. In the meantime celebrate that the Eurobodalla Council DOES support local media and does advertise in local media as well as publishes its weekly Noticeboards and many media releases in local media to ensure inclusion of the community.


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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