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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Media support: All fluff and no substance.

This week we discover that the Shadow Minister for Local Government and Western Sydney, Greg Warren MP, has called on the NSW Government to better support rural and metropolitan media outlets to ensure they not only survive, but also thrive. At the recent Australian Local Government Conference the guest speaker, Stan Grant, also reminded councils, especially rural and regional, that the local media played a crucial role in the health of a community by informing and including the community to a collective end. But unless you are ACM or NewsCorp you get nothing. The Federal Government has spent nearly $70 million in the past two years propping up their failing revenues. But what can be done for local independent on-line outlets like The Beagle. Nothing much at all. Nor is there any reason to step in and support. There is no printing. Overheads are covered by a functioning financial model and any handout by way of grants must be extended to any other business. Even offering tax cuts and deductibles to media does a disservice to other businesses who might be doing it tough. Fortunately The Beagle has the support of local advertisers, sponsors and donors to keep it afloat. Why? Because of what it is - free, online, community, inclusive and providing the community with a place to celebrate, inform and include whilst giving it a voice and placing a spotlight where it needs to be shone. That is what newspapers did once. The Beagle has enjoyed the support of our local Federal members as advertisers who use banners to promote latest grants, assistance and accomplishment. They might do so again. During the elections The Beagle ran ads for all who requested. But the Federal Government does nothing for The Beagle. It pays nothing for their Covid campaigns or any of the other campaigns that come by way of their media releases. Main Stream Media does benefit by way of their publishing half page promotional posters under lucrative contracts. But independents like The Beagle are not considered or approached. The same applies with the media releases from the Sate Government that cover everything from Traffic condition information to Health and TAFE alerts. One can see the big banner ads in ACM and News Corp mastheads but there is no approach by these State agencies to provide such advertising to local independents. The difficulty I have with the potential of Federal or State advertising is that one is bound to put it up, as is, under contract. I like it just as it is, where, at my discretion, I can promote positive initiatives and report positive outcomes as outlined in media releases whilst removing any smoke, mirrors or spin. The Council generates around 1000 articles and notices per year. But they also don't contribute to The Beagle. But nor should they as the information they provide is for the community, keeping them informed and included. For this reason very few, if any, Council media releases have gone unpublished in the last six and a half years. Back to today, where Mr Warren moved a notice of motion in the Legislative Assembly noting the House:

1. Acknowledges the important role metropolitan and rural media play in informing communities

2. Recognises the challenges facing media outlets – particularly in regards to the transition from print media to a more digital media focus

3. Urges the Government to support and nurture metropolitan and rural media through this ongoing and significant changing landscape All of that sounds lovely but there is no HOW to support and nurture. It might make me feel nice to be acknowledged. How about a framed certificate? Nice to recognise the challenges of transition from print to digital but that comes with no detail, other than to recognise it. The Federal Government just recognised it and gave the big players $20 million to help pay for the increased paper cost. But the digital press received nothing. The question must be "How long will the government cover the rising costs of paper?" ACM, Australia's largest regional newspaper publisher is crying poor. So much so they just put up the price of their newspapers to cover costs. With a Federal grant in one hand and a price rise in the other there is little reason to change their failing financial model as their crocodile tear approach seems to be working perfectly well.

Shadow Minister for Local Government and Western Sydney, Greg Warren MP said this week that the greater focus on digital content as well the impacts of COVID-19, had placed a tremendous strain on many newsrooms throughout the state.

“All media outlets, regardless of their size of stature, play a vital role in ensuring their communities are well informed about all issues,” he said.

“They also ensure those elected to public office are held accountable for their actions as well as their inaction – something I fully support and welcome.

“COVID-19 as well as a greater focus on the digital media, has taken its toll on many publications who are really treading water.

“It essential for all communities to have strong and healthy publications at a local level, a regional level, a state level and a national level.” Alas Mr Warren is misguided when he says “All media outlets, regardless of their size of stature, play a vital role in ensuring their communities are well informed about all issues.” The fact is that most mastheads in regional NSW have become little more than slivers of their former selves with the sole function to carry corporate advertising padded with fluff. They play little, if any role, in ensuring their communities "are well informed about all issues". Fortunately in the South East we have quality local radio, strong local independent on-line news outlets and an intelligent community who have made up their mind that they deserve quality, timely local news and seek it out.



Comments


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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