Many parts of Australia, in particular, some rural and remote areas were stunned by the closure of their local print newspaper last winter.
On the Far North Coast that meant that The Byron Shire News, Ballina Advocate, Lismore Northern Star and Tweed Daily News would close and become online publications only, along with a host of other newspapers across the entire country.
Independent political activist group GetUp! say that late last year, 5,077 of its members chipped in to fund research into Australia’s shrinking media landscape — research they say we desperately need our politicians to see.
That work is now underway — with expert researchers currently scouring through years of media ownership records and distribution data — and our hard-hitting report will be released in February.
Inquiry into media diversity
GetUp! Says that with the Senate launching an inquiry into media diversity, we know our politicians are ready to listen. But without including stories of how everyday people are affected by a shrinking and concentrated media landscape, the data they present to Senators won’t be nearly as powerful as it needs to be.
So GetUp! is asking for people to include personal stories that they can add to the the report, and create a crucial human dimension to their expert findings.
If you feel you have been affected by a changing media environment, GetUp! wants to hear from you. Has your local paper closed down in recent years? Do you only have access to Murdoch-owned newspapers? Or does your local paper play a critical role in your life and couldn’t imagine your community without it?
GetUp! Says that right now, fewer and fewer individuals are gaining more and more power over our media — over the headlines, the opinion pieces, and the stories we read.
The media monopoly
This media monopoly is bad for our democracy, fighting disinformation, and the issues we care about — one need only look how the Murdoch Press’ climate denial has aided and abetted political inaction in this country.
GetUp! says it’s not just our democracy that suffers, it’s people too. Where communities have lost local papers, and local reporters. Where no one is amplifying community voices, covering council meetings, or uncovering dodgy dealings. And where it’s increasingly hard to talk to our neighbours about issues like climate action, when they only have access to newspapers dominated by the likes of Andrew Bolt, rather than scientists and experts.
These are the stories our politicians need to hear. So while our expert researchers work to collate the data, we need to make sure Senators hear from our communities and grapple with the issues they are facing.
If you would like to add your voice to the conversation, you can click here to participate in the survey and contribute your story.