Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Couple of Bucks for a Quality Local Paper? That's a Bargain

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Couple of Bucks for a Quality Local Paper? That's a Bargain

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Vollmer

READING about the shape of the Australian media landscape has become increasingly depressing in recent years, with jobs cut and outlets closed or merged.

Where once thousands of diverse voices told the stories of every-day Australians - their challenges, triumphs, concerns and celebrations - fewer newsrooms with increasingly stretched staff find it ever-harder to fulfil that role.

Meanwhile, bombarded with new technologies, a plethora of online news and the constant noise of social media, consumers feel they're seeing more than ever.

Increasingly, that couldn't be further from the truth.

When people occasionally pause to reflect on the decline of traditional media, most comfort themselves that the only losers are billionaire moguls like Rupert Murdoch.

In reality, declining newspapers, amalgamated radio stations, and shrinking television newsrooms come with a far higher price.

Without quality journalism, our community is the biggest loser. Democracy suffers, as corruption, misconduct or favouritism remain hidden. Local communities become fragmented, isolated and uninformed. Good deeds go unseen, while violence, exploitation, theft and criminality remains shrouded in the darkness.

Last week, The Northern Star's editor launched a defence of his paper after a reader texted to say that with paper now costing $1.50 it simply wasn't worth the price. It's a message no doubt every newspaper in the country has received in recent years.

And the excuse is all too familiar: It's the media's fault that people don't pay for news anymore.

In truth, what most people are saying is that they don't see why they should pay for news when so much information is available free online.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that most people spend three times more on a coffee, drunk while reading the paper, let's examine what that cover price actually pays for. …

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