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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

News Corp scraps print for paid online subs

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News Corp announced that it was no longer printing many of its regional and community newspapers from June 29 including the Byron Shire News, Ballina Advocate, Lismore’s Northern Star and the Tweed Daily News.

Mandy Nolan

From June 29, nearly 100 regional newspapers, owned by US citizen and multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch, will cease print operations.

News Corp announced they will move the (mostly free) titles to behind an online paywall.

Locally this includes the Byron News, the Northern Star, the Ballina Advocate and the Tweed Daily News.

Some communities will now be without a local newspaper for the first time in generations.

A longtime journalist for a local News Corp newspaper, who asked to remain anonymous, said, ‘What happens when a local paper disappears? Whether paid or free, the common thread is lost – communities lose a point of connection for finding out anything; from the most mundane of meetings, to major events such as  festivals or sporting results.

‘For a lot of these communities, it’s their paper – they feel as though they own it. It’s okay for them to bag it, but to have someone come in and take it away is a blow’.

Tania Philips is another writer who has seen the publications she works for axed.

‘Big business has been the death of newspapers, and social media has taken the ball, because they had to – you can’t read those micro-stories anymore – it wasn’t appearing – and that’s why people are looking to social media not the other way around,’ Tania said.

Regional News Corp sales departments are also hit. One of the sales reps for a regional paper, who also asked to be anonymous, said the axing came out of the blue.

‘I guess there had been talk here and there that papers were dying and digital subscriptions were the latest, but we absolutely didn’t see this coming’.

Another employee, who wished to also remain anonymous, is a single parent. They said, ‘I felt like my job was secure. I had a car loan, a personal loan and I live alone. It will impact me heavily. I don’t know if I can get another job, or if I have to move in with my mum.’

Politicians only winners from the decision

Both Tania and her colleagues believe that many in the community will struggle with a digital format.

‘The older demographic will definitely struggle without a print version. The biggest winners out of this will be the politicians. If you do a story on a politician and expose them in print, it tends to hang around a lot more. They worry more about what goes in ink on paper’.

They said they worry for journalism’s future when the focus is just on subscriptions.

‘It’s all click-bait. We have been told to go for “listicals”, which for example, is the ten best local coffees… that’s not really journalism.’

The News Corp journo believes there is a space for a community-owned, independent paper. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised is there were a lot of pop ups. But it will be hard to sustain. Metro papers are never going to cover the region’.

There are now only a handful of printed newspapers in regional Australia. The Echo remains one of them.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

4 COMMENTS

  1. News, news, news, what is News?
    It has been said back in history when newspapers printed news on paper that news was something someone , somewhere did not want printed, all the rest is advertising.
    What do we get today? We get all the advertising printed as someone wants it printed with very little news, and so, the newspaper no long exists for just who wants to read advertising?
    Today, this minute the nation is in Economicv Recession. Just where and what newspaper has “We Are Going Down Broke” plastered all over its front page. No one would buy anything.
    The next Economic Quarter is to be worse than this Economic Quarter.
    You have just read the news.

  2. Mahishasuramardini!

    It is an opportunity for local lovers of truth.
    You know, I feel for the journos & local staff. Realistically, it is good to see some of Murdoch’s insidious darkness & foul personal agenda lifting from our country. From this perspective, I feel grateful.

    So there is room for local interest. maybe someone should approach the Guardian?
    They tend to be more representative of unbiased reporting & care about the environment. I think I read it’s a not for profit(?)
    Not sure. It’s independent anyway as a global representative of reporting.

    Blessings

  3. Ginga
    It is unfortunate the London based Guardian has the reputation you describe. It consisently demonstrates otherwise. It insists 5G is safe, it spent years promoting the claims Corbyn was an anti-semite only to realise when it was too late the Guadian were responsiblity for supporting BoJo win – they made an embarassing about face after the election. They are pro Russia Russia Russia lies when the evidence amongst others – that was refused to be investigated by the Met Pol – is Cambridge Analytica and other groups were funded by UK government sources and Peter Thiel. They are pro-Obama as black messiah, pro – Hilary as the saviour for women and democracy, and don’t attack the Tories and BoJo in particular on any number of the long list of charges they could be.
    The Guardian are joke

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