The contraction of news services in regional Australia over the past decade has led to increasing concern about the future of journalism in regional Australia. This has been heightened by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The health crisis has hastened the decline of already vulnerable news outlets. While audiences have increasingly turned to news for information about the spread of the virus, the rapid withdrawal of advertising resulted the closure or suspension of many local news outlets. Since 2019, it is estimated more than 200 local and regional news services have temporarily or permanently shut down.
While we can’t predict how well the regional news industry will recover, we do know that reliable local news in times of emergency is essential. The dedicated reporters in regional newsrooms will need more support than ever to meet the needs of their communities in a time of ongoing transition and uncertainty.
There have been government and industry programmes developed to assist regional journalism, but the voices of practitioners are often missing from the debate. The central aim of this study was to find out what regional journalists themselves need to keep serving their communities and how they see the future. This report is based on a survey of 307 regional journalists working TV, radio, print and online, and 31 in-depth interviews. The research was conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.