Australia’s regional newspapers are about regional stories and are a shared community experience. Regional newspapers put into the public area the stories of people who have excelled in sport, school or their business enterprise, as well as coverage of valuable community-based issues such as council decisions, court matters, public health issues and local weather events.
Regional newspapers have been challenged for more than a decade by loss of revenue, loss of talent and rising costs that have forced many to permanently close their doors. As newspapers close, readers are pushed towards social media for their news, which increases Australians’ exposure to misinformation and creates a disconnect in communities.
As part of the inquiry, the committee considered:
- The impact of decisions in a number of markets in regional and remote Australia by large publishers such as News Corp and Australian Community Media to suspend publication of print editions;
- The extent to which there has been entry into these or other markets by new operators, particularly small businesses;
- The impact of the News Media Bargaining Code for regional and remote newspapers; and
- The degree to which there has been economic recovery in regional and remote markets from the impacts of COVID, and whether this has led to advertising revenue improving.
- Chapter 2 provides an overview of how regional news is defined and accessed, as well as the role that large publishers play in regional areas. The chapter also discusses the emergence of hyper-local news, the evolution of media in regional areas and how access to regional news is tracked and mapped.
- Chapter 3 considers how revenue sources for regional newspapers have changed as a result of the growth of digital platforms and the impacts of COVID-19, and potential future funding models to support regional papers. The chapter also considers current Australian Government initiatives to support regional newspapers and the growing role of philanthropy in ongoing funding models.
- Chapter 4 considers the growth of digital platforms and the impact on regional newspapers, as well as the development and impact of the News Media Bargaining Code.