Local media a critical service for regional NSW

There is a real crisis going on in regional Australia right now.  In this case it’s not just the drought, not just population decline, not only inept politicians, not just the bushfires or social disadvantage.

I’m referring to the demise of an essential service to regional cities and towns - local media.

The recent announcement from News Corp that they are closing the print editions of their regional newspapers is yet another blow to the communities they serve.  Frankly, I’m thanking my lucky stars that the Daily Liberal is owned by another company other than News Corp.

To me, our Daily Liberal remains an important icon for Dubbo.  It’s as important as the zoo, as iconic as the Macquarie and has been around nearly as long as Victoria Park.

It’s a real asset to our community that we have a  journal of past events by way of a vast library of back editions on which to refer.

What puzzles me the most of this demise is the official government policy of the media in this country - or in the case, lack of policy.

For example, many years ago the government created the ABC in order to provide essential programming that usually isn’t being broadcast. It was also created to be a service for regional and remote Australia that missed out on commercial broadcasters.

Fast forward many decades and it’s an oddity that every community within Australia has access to multiple commercial television channels and radio stations, yet the ABC remains fully funded by taxpayers.

On the other hand, our essential print or written media is dying with next to no support from government other than a small amount of commercial advertising arrangements.

I’m not saying just take money from the ABC and give it to print.  What I am suggesting is that there needs to be a review of what’s important and what’s needed in this modern Australian society.  For example, do we really need multiple versions of the ABCs Triple J or any of their other zillion digital radio stations?  Or should the ABC just focus on the ultra-important regional local stations, children’s programming and unbiased news and current affairs?

The reality is regional Australia simply cannot rely of unaccountable overseas flyby night news websites.  And more so, social media is more times than not complete bias dribble.

Surely it’s time for a whole sale rewrite of our media arrangements.  I say wipe the board clean and put in public policy that our society needs in the 2020’s.  Media and broadcast arrangements from the 1920s and 30s have little to do with today’s society.  Regional Australia needs accurate, reliable and sustainable written media.

Last Edited: 07 Aug 2020

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