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On your bike, Roop!

When Rupert Murdoch decided to shut down 112 regional newspapers around Australia he did it in the typical Murdoch fashion. He was not satisfied with the returns from these regional mastheads so rather than sell them off to people who weren’t so concerned about a bottom line but who had a passion for journalism and for their community and who could make them work, he decided to completely shut-down 36 and move 76 behind a digital paywall.

Evidently staff found out through internal rumours and leaks on the Newscorp grapevine and then had their worst fears confirmed when retrenchments were announced, accompanied by the usual bland managerial double-speak.

Executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, awarded the dreaded DCM (Don’t Come Monday) awards, thanked the departing employees for their “professionalism, dedication and contribution” and spoke in glowing terms of the 112 publications, saying :

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service, Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial.”

I know that in my local area there was a general sigh as we contemplated the loss of our valued weekly newspaper, The Tablelander. No longer would we have all that local coverage that turns a disparate region into a community. The happenings at local council meetings, the names and shames of those who got pinged for DUI ; the local footy, golfing and bowls results ; and best of all the rantings in the Letters to the Editor. Not to mention the births, deaths and marriages and the weekly crossword.

They tell us that they can’t make money any longer from these publications, many of which have been around for more that a hundred years and were hoovered up by the Murdoch clan principally from the APN group at a time when Murdoch had decided that he wanted a monopoly of news distribution in this wide brown land. In my own neck of the woods in Far North Queensland we have access to three daily newspapers (Cairns Post, Courier Mail and the Australian) all owned by Newscorp and all, it seems, under direction to adopt a right-wing stance on pretty well everything. At the present time, with a state election looming in October, they are ranting against Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk largely because she has been committed to keeping Queensland free of COVID-19 as far as that is possible : in my local area we are thankful that her efforts have kept us free of this hideous virus with minimal disruption to our daily life. We are also thankful that her policies have kept this virus out of the aboriginal communities of the Cape York and Gulf regions and the Torres Strait islands. A cavalier approach of let it rip as demanded by Newscorp and its television outlet, Sky-after-dark would have been a disaster.

To say that these local newspapers were uneconomical is strange when you consider that most of the advertising revenue is drawn from the local community with no obvious interference from online platforms like Facebook and Google. The ads come from the automobile dealers, the local real estate agents, from the butcher, the grocer, the local traders and retailers, plus trade services and the classifieds. If you can’t turn a quid out of that lot, Rupert, you’re not trying.

In my local area of the Atherton Tablelands (far North Queensland) this media vacuum has thankfully been quickly filled by a pre-existing privately run weekly publication called The Express. Operated by a small but dedicated band of local people this independent, over the counter tabloid has stepped up and assumed the mantle abandoned by Murdoch. The gratifying thing is that the advertisers have followed and quality news content with a local focus has been maintained and enhanced : congratulations to all concerned.

Down the range from me, in Cairns, a similar thing is happening with a new independent weekly tabloid titled Cairns Local News publishing every Friday, with the first issue on September 18.

Clearly there will always be a demand for local stories and local advertising and I would like to think that what has occurred locally is happening elsewhere in Australia and that we are seeing a resurgence of independent regional journalism.

How are things in your neck of the woods ?

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13 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    In Armidale NSW the long standing Armidale Express has closed their Armidale street frontage of over 100 years and gone on-line behind a pay-wall. Does anybody still read this ACN tabloid, better at supporting Nazional$ press releases than reporting news from anywhere outside the office? Perhaps this strategy had something to do with an editorial infatuation with the local NSW representative of the Nazional$.

    I remember that in Lismore NSW some 20 years ago, a small four (4) A4 page ”newspaper”, the ”Ëcho”,’ started out in competition with the Anthony political dynasty masthead, the Northern Star. The Echo is now the dominant masthead around Lismore and the North Coast tree-changers haveN ow the Far North Coast is leading the way for the demise of the Nazional$ in NSW by demanding the same high standard of metropolitan government services in mental health, hospitals, education, policing and infra-structure development especially road maintenance and upgrades that Nazional$ politicians are unwilling to support in government.

  2. Vikingduk

    Similar occurrence here in Noosa, the twice weekly murdoch rag was canned leaving a local publication, Noosa Today to fill the space. The pay for publication, Sunshine Coast Daily, gobbled up by Courier Mail, which means the wider Sunshine Coast coverage only available via this rancid garbage wrapper. Pleased to hear The Echo thriving, always a good read, though I think it started life in Byron Bay and then expanding to Lismore. Providing news without an underlying agenda very rare unfortunately, so, congratulations to all who strive to provide community news.

    Noosa Today had been struggling and had become an online only publication with not a good looking future until the demise of repulsive rupert’s rags. Now back with a once-a-week paper, at the moment, stronger than ever. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going.

  3. Kathryn

    Why is anyone surprised at the self-serving greed, tyranny and depravity of this monstrous, non-Australian corporate predator whose top four priorities are: (1) Rupert Murdoch; (2) Rupert Murdoch; (3) Rupert Murdoch and, last but not least, (4) promoting the LNP and the IPA who also hold the morally-bankrupt corporate parasite, Rupert Murdoch, as a top priority in return for “favours received” as their official Propaganda Minister! Murdoch is an unspeakably evil, megalomaniacal narcissist and totally corrupt, undemocratic fascist who is ONLY motivated by an overwhelming obsession for total, dictatorial power and relentless greed to be remorselessly attained at ANY price but, largely at the expense of ordinary Australians, the ALP, the Greens or anyone this bastard sees as a threat standing in his way.

    If you can judge a monster by the type of ruthless, lying, conniving and traitorous muscreants that he aligns himself with, you only have to look at the type of malicious, venomous, character-assassinating grubs who Murdoch “favours” under his employ in the discredited cesspool of SkyNews and other Murdoch-influenced forms of Z-rated trash and verbal diarrhoea that tries – and fails – to pass as “media” in this country! These callously inhumane weak excuses for humanity include misogynistic, racist morons and vile, shrieking harridans like Andrew Bolt-the-Dolt, the nauseating Ray Hadley, Steve Price, the ex-SlyNews right-wing imposter posing as an ABC journalist, David Speers and, perhaps worst of all, the totally repugnant, absolutely offensive Miranda not-so-Devine who is now facing yet ANOTHER massive $200,000 fine for dragging yet another poor, vulnerable family’s name through the mud for no other reason than not being a member of the insane, hate-filled extremists on the lunatic fringe of the far-right Boys’ Club of the terrifying, undemocratic LNP/Murdoch/IPA Alliance!

    There WAS a time when Labor introduced strict media laws into Australia that prevented a monstrous aberration, like Rupert Murdoch, from owning more than around 60% of our total media (including newspapers, radio and television) to prevent our media being used as a POLITICAL weapon against opposing political parties; or twisting/perverting our news to provide self-serving benefit to the causes or political leaders best serving a corrupt owner of a media monopolised by a single entity or refusing to print, publish or disclose anything that puts those favoured by a Media Overlord into disrepute! WELL, guess who changed THAT sensible, democratic Media Ownership Law to provide REAL and prolonged benefit to himself and the unconscionable LNP? None other than the disgraced, lying, war criminal JOHN HOWARD! As a result, Australia now has the notorious reputation as having the worst, most biased, monopolised media is the WORLD!

    Just remember this at the next election! Can’t stand the damage the LNP/Murdoch Alliance have done to our media? Are you justifiably sickened by the blatant, catastrophic bias Murdoch has to the appalling right-wing extremists in the neoliberal LNP, truly the worst, most non-achieving government in living memory? Appalled as much by what Murdoch does NOT report in his vile, sensationalistic, Z-rated rags as the slanderous, politically-biased crap he does publish? Then kick the reviled, bone-idle, Trump-supporting, Hillsong Cultist, Sloth MorriScum, to the kerb at the next election and do our country, environment and democracy a HUGE favour!

  4. Al

    Terence, true, shutting down local news has nothing to do with economics. Roop and his mates in the cabal want no independent narratives. Free thinkers are a liability to those who want to manipulate public perception. The public should have no say in their own community destiny, the ideals of those who work for a better world are of zero value if they don’t align with the plans of the 1%.
    Now, everyone, remember to wash your hands and social distance, we are all in this psy-op together.
    I see no let up on this theft of democratic rights until most small businesses get collapsed and the public is at their wits end, ready to do whatever to get back to a way of life that is never going to return, at least not if the cabal has its way. This may take years.
    Never thought life would take this Orwellian twist, but here we are.
    What to do? ‘Write’ a sequel in right thought or right action or simply just appreciate nature?
    How much the elite l must detest that idea?
    With some luck the cabal gets exposed for what they are – ‘small-minded people who exalt intellect over heart’. (Cyrus Parsa)

  5. corvusboreus

    Rupert bought out the old local rag (Coffs Coast Advocate) during his round of APN acquisitions.
    His underlings immediately started slipping in syndicated tall tales from the daily telegraph, then upped the ante to brays and bleats of Bolt.
    There were rumblings of local dissent.
    The ‘local’ paper then ceased to be a paper and became a shadow behind a pay-gated wall.

    A replacement local rag has since started up, publishing once per week.
    It is not owned by Rupert.
    It has reasonable reportage of local events.

  6. Kronomex

    ““They have provided News with invaluable years of service…” means cash, lots cash and now they aren’t making cash, lots of cash, for us it’s time to get rid of them.

  7. corvusboreus

    Kronomex,
    Thing about Rupert is that he doesn’t mind some of his holdings taking a dollar drain if they can still influence public discourse.
    The ‘Australian’ is an example of a masthead that takes a steady loss, but whilst it’s still circulating, it’s opinionators get invited on to chat show discussions as voices of alleged authority.
    His tabloids of the daily sun courier herald mail telegraph type swallow some loss in the policy of free surplus circulation distribution to junk food chains and cafes, where kids can read their headlines of bold print bullshit.
    (practical advice for such situations is to flip through the rag to the classified ads for ‘social escorts’ and leave it lying open on the ads for strippers and hookers)
    SKY packages get flogged to pubs at discount rates for the benefit of getting bolt and jonesy dripping into drunken ears.
    Small localised losses count little in the grander schemes of exerting power over politics to entrench profitable privilege.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Bingo, cb.

    He may take a hit with his papers, but he’ll make it up with govt favours.

  9. wam

    Dear waltz,,
    nearly 50 years ago rupert visited our paper and, by sacking any labor leaners, seeded the clp crap that we have endured ever since.
    With ch9 closing and now QLD based, ch7 is Vic and who cares about 10 plus the ABC news producing team is a haven for ex-rupert media hacks and the ABC was full of anti-gillard announcers 10 years ago.
    We now have equality where praising the clp and bagging labor is considered a fair both sides approach. QED.
    still who gives a rat;s digital subscription????

  10. Lambchop Simnel

    My mistake.

    I thought this was about a deal Murdoch made with the Government, eg Fletcher mentioned on ABC “The Business” tonight re Murdoch coraling less popular sports.

    Maybe that just came out tonight and didn’t receive the coverage it deserved.

    Filthy stuff, Fletcher and Murdoch execs.

  11. corvusboreus

    MT,
    Sorry, didn’t catch that, my attention was fixated on the farnarkling field where Hoffa and Hazza were crossing flukems over the gonad at the outer boundary of the grommet.
    I was so excited, I threw my shoe at the missus.

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