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’.