QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has described regional newspapers such as the Coolum Advertiser as ‘absolutely vital’ and as the ‘lifeblood of their communities’ before offering to help ensure that a larger share of the Queensland state government advertising budget be directed at communicating with regional Queenslanders through independent regional newspapers.
The Premier made the comments at the 115th Annual Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) conference in Brisbane last week, referring to the ‘resurgence’ of independent newspaper publishers in Queensland as a contributing factor.
The QCPA represents over 60 news media print publishers across Queensland and North NSW and is committed to encouraging and fostering the delivery of quality, trustworthy and reliable news and advertising services.
Advertiser Publisher and Owner Michelle Box who is a member of the QCPA and attended the conference said that the announcement from the Premier was welcomed.
“Newspapers like the Advertiser are vital within the community and without them, many people simply would not have a connection to what is happening as not everyone is on social media or use the internet.
“Many other industries are financially helped out by government and independent media, now more than ever in this age of misinformation, should be no different and if the government is going to spend money on advertising, we would like it to be with us!”
The announcement from Premier Palaszczuk follows the recent Victorian government commitment to ensuring one full page of government advertising is placed in every regional newspaper every week.
The Premier’s pledge also aligns with key findings from a recently released Deakin University report on media innovation which found that “Securing the future of quality and reliable news and information platforms in non-metropolitan areas is in the national interest.”
The Deakin report refers to numerous senate inquiries examining aspects of rural and regional news since 2016, as well as the Digital Platforms Inquiry, conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and a parliamentary inquiry into the future of local newspapers.
Findings from the above stated, “It is now widely understood that local news matters to our democracy, but it has struggled and requires support. Our research suggests government policies and advertising spending is the single most influential factor in providing baseline surety to the long-term sustainability of small, independently owned news outlets in rural, regional and suburban Australia.”
The QCPA as well as members look forward to the comments from the Premier being actioned. The conference and awards night broke several records including receiving the most nominations for awards ever. Delegates travelled from across regional Queensland and from all eastern states to attend, including Mareeba in far north Queensland, Dubbo and Narrabri in central NSW, Gippsland in Victoria and the Barossa and Clare Valleys of South Australia.