The Beagle has learn that the Bay Post - Moruya Examiner will be reduced to one edition per week beginning next Wednesday and that the free The Independent will return to some outlets on Thursdays. While Australian Community Media (ACM), the publishers of the Bay Post , might have benefitted of $10.4m from the Federal Government to invest in local news there is little, if any evidence that a single dollar of that money has found itself to its South East mastheads. In early 2020 the twice weekly Moruya Examiner and weekly The Independent ceased publication and disappeared overnight without apology nor explanation. Over this last year the Bay Post - Moruya Examiner has become a mere slip of a newspaper with its Wednesday and Friday editions offering little in the way of journalism and most times delivering nearly 50% of its printed content as nationally affiliated advertisements. The mixed newly merged Bay Post - Moruya Examiner masthead was created for marketing purposes to retain a Moruya readership that has sadly not delivered to the Moruya region.
The fact of the matter is that the Bay Post is published as the Bay Post and Moruya is no longer represented under any masthead banner. Moruya is now referred to by the Bay Post masthead as a surrounding community.
Above: The Bay Post claims an average Issue Readership of 5,096 calculated at 3.3 readers per copy. The fact that they advise they distribute 1,300 inserts on a Wednesday is closer to the truth of how many papers they might print yet, with dwindling sales and more returns, it has been evident for sometime that they would soon consider printing just once a week, as they do for the Narooma News which has reduced in size to just sixteen pages. The Narooma News statistics suggest an average issue readership of 3891 readers calculated at 3.3 readers per copy. (when was the last tie you bought a paper and passed it on to two point three others?) Important mastheads that once proudly delivered local news, specific to Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma, have become little more that clones delivering the same front covers and the same regional headlines offering little differentiation between Batemans Bay news and Narooma news. Those in the know soon realised that you could access the bulk of news that was held behind the Bay Post paywall by going to the Narooma News page that had no paywall where you could read it for free. Anecdotally the sales of the local printed newspapers have taken a tumble as more and more of the community have moved on line for their news seeking out news via free hyper-local alternates such as The Beagle, The Braidwood Bugle, About Regional along with 2EC and ABC South East on radio and social media. In truth the groundswell of quality and timely news delivered by these other outlets has rendered the Bay Post and Narooma News all but irrelevant as their printed news is most often out of date and, at with the cost of printing, most often a culled subset of the depth of news at hand. Since the departure of passionate, informed local editors such as Stan Gordon in Narooma and Kerrie O'Conner in Batemans Bay the two local editions have been remotely edited from Nowra and the local staff reduced to part timers and cadets. Disappointingly the Bay Post - Moruya Examiner recently began to deliver only sixteen pages on a Wednesday and Friday, with the Wednesday edition acting as a delivery vehicle for an ACM printed real estate guide and occasional advertising insert. The community have been watching the steady demise of their local paper while listening to all of the announcements that accompanied major grants. “The majority of the publishers receiving grants under this program operate small‑to‑medium businesses. Local papers are the life-blood of many towns across Australia. They connect communities and keep people informed. Minister for Communications, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP June 2020 In awarding ACM, among others, $50 million in total Minister Paul Fletcher said: “These are unprecedented circumstances in regional media - with COVID-19 triggering catastrophic drops in advertising revenue leading to many newspapers suspending operations and threatening the sustainability of regional broadcasters.
“The Morrison Government is responding to these exceptional circumstances with this specific and time-limited support measure, designed to assist the continued provision of quality news and information to communities across regional and remote Australia.
“Public interest journalism is critical to keeping communities informed. PING will provide direct support for the continued provision of local and regional journalism, which has never been more important than in recent times when communities across Australia need access to trusted sources of news and information,” Minister Fletcher said. Sadly it appears that the trickle down didn't make it to our local mastheads. With the Bay Post- Moruya Examiner being published and The Independent also rumored to be making a return the news has already met with a backlash with one of the traditional locations that normally carry the free paper telling The Beagle;
"The Independent offers little in the way of any benefit to us. Having a stand offering a free paper is a pain in the backside because we have to manage it for free and provide the realestate on our floor to display it when we could be using that space to sell a product that gives us revenue." Another outlet who will refuse to be a distribution point for The Independent said "There isn't any news in it. It is just advertising and they get the revenue for that and we are the bunnies that provide them the outlet for free. The only people who pick it up aren't the elderly and they just want the free TV Guide. Nup, not in my shop". And of the Bay Post going weekly? Moruya township folks say: "I refuse to buy the Bay Post because it is just wall to wall adverts". "I live in Moruya and we may as well have fallen off the map". "Where is my bloody paper? They owe us an explanation."