Since Covid we have seen the Moruya Examiner disappear, the Bay Post and Narooma News close their offices to work remotely, the downsizing of their staff, the downsizing of their editions to just 16 pages, the cloning of content that makes the Bay Post all but indistinguishable from the Narooma News and then, more recently, the end of the Friday print edition of the Bay Post. Noted also is the increase in National advertising. In all the content of the scant 16 pages often approaches 50% advertising and TV guide. ACM, the publishers of the Bay Post and Narooma News, enjoyed a $10.3 million grant from the Federal Government on top of their JobKeeper contributions. Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said at the time (June 2020) that funding will support newspaper businesses and commercial broadcasters across regional and remote Australia. “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 Federal 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. That funding did not translate into any improvement for local ACM news and the once proud mastheads that served as a quality news source covering the diversity of our community are now barely relevant. Fortunately there are alternatives for those who have embraced the internet. The Braidwood Bugle and Moruya Mail are two committed news streams as are About Regional, 2EC and ABC South East. Each offers a news feed that sets out to engage, inform and include. Newspapers are dying; long live local news
Chris Krewson of Lion Publishers (USA and Canada) notes "Digital newsrooms are having a moment — but they’re not “replacing” something. They’re creating something new, which could do much more". "Local news is dying, right?
Well, not so fast; are folks really concerned about losing a once-daily wrap-up of select things that happened yesterday to a few days before, surrounded by 2D cartoons, used car ads, and lukewarm opinions about local politics, slathered on thin newsprint with fewer pages every year?
"Probably not. "Research shows new newsrooms are launching fast, 50 a year for the last five years. They’re for-profit, non-profit; they’re a husband-and-wife team covering a small town; they’re a staff of dozens holding politicians to account at the statewide level.
What they are not is a replacement for the newspapers that are dying by the dozen, and that is OK. "They’re not replacing the newspaper. They don’t need to. This nascent industry has the potential to grow beyond the limitations of newspapers, to truly reflect and serve communities large and small, rural, urban, Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer… and on and on. We just have to stop thinking about saving the unsaveable and build businesses that serve the needs of communities first. In fact, what these publications are starting to offer is just as good, if not better, than the legacies they’re increasingly supplanting. Chris Krewson is the executive director of LION Publishers, which provides teaching, resources, and community to independent news entrepreneurs as they build and develop sustainable businesses.