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Byron Shire
July 1, 2022

APN move an ‘attack on independent journalism’

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Tory Abe, Sekisui House’s CEO and managing director development and communities and Neil Monaghan, CEO of Australian Regional Media with Ripley Today. Photo NewspaperWorks
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Chris Dobney

APN, the publisher of the Northern Star and a clutch of north-coast weekly newspapers, has entered into a partnership with a property developer to launch its latest publication.

The move has been attacked by Echonetdaily GM Simon Haslam as being ‘about as far removed from the concept of independent journalism as it is possible to get.’

It follows the recent announcement that APN’s stable of newspapers is up for sale, with the likely purchaser tipped to be the company’s largest shareholder Rupert Murdoch.

Under the unique arrangement Sekisui House, the developer of Ecco Ripley – a new 2000-home suburb south of Ipswich, has partnered with APN News & Media to launch a monthly newspaper Ripley Today.

According to the website NewspaperWorks, APN will ‘leverage its existing resources, staff and facilities to produce the paper’ with Sekisui House ‘funding a new journalist position to produce specialised Ripley Valley content’ as part of the two-year sponsorship deal.

Sekisui House development manager Frank Galvin told NewspaperWorks, ‘newspapers are one of the most trusted news mediums in communities and creating this publication means residents will be the first to hear about all the exciting developments and events at Ecco Ripley, Ripley Town Centre and the Ripley Valley as a whole.’

But Byron Shire Echo and Echonetdaily managing director Simon Haslam said the deal was anything but a benefit for residents, who could ‘hardly rely on their local newspaper to report impartially on the developer that funds it.’

Mr Haslam joked that ‘paying your own journalist is a much simpler idea than sending press releases; it could be extended to enable developers to direct fund their own councillors, or even legislative staff to enable developers to draft their own new legislation directly.’

But he added, ‘in all seriousness, this kind of arrangement is an attack on the very notion of independent journalism’.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. well at least they’re honest about it, instead of hiding behind ‘free speech’ when the motives are all commercial…

  2. This is an idiotic and irresponsible piece of biased journalism.
    That client publishing deal, of which there are thousands of examples in today’s media landscape, relates to the Ipswich area of Queensland and has nothing to do with The Northern Star or any of the community papers on the North Coast.
    And it is completely transparent arrangement.
    In reference to your publication, I quote a colleague: “I would say the Echo’s long love story to Bluesfest last week, without a single mention of controversy, was probably paid for by advertising dollars and the whole paper should have been called Bluesfest Weekly!”

  3. Mr Haslam seems a little too prone to conspiracy theories.
    Ms Rinehart’s foray onto the realms of Troof, Justice and just mine your own business, has brought abundance for Fairfax shareholders.
    Regal Estate’s developer W.T. Hell has frequently shared sage advice, free of charge, with our Echonetdaily journalist, Luis Feliu, which Feliu should acknowledge has been almost invaluable.

  4. Perusing through your average Echo.. one thing doesnt escape the eye ..an abundance of Real Estate ads and/or infor-mercials ..seriously ..independent journalism ? come on guys you are stretching it a bit arent you? suggesting The Echo is independent when it has to cow tow to the holy dollar as much as anyone else..not sure you are fooling anyone with that one..i didnt see much effort when wikileaks came to town in fact conspicuous by your absence..though to be honest there was one echo employee there

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