DISAPPEARING NEWSPAPERS: CQ's politicians are pulling out all stops to convince News Corp to continue printing a hard copy newspaper for Central Queensland.
DISAPPEARING NEWSPAPERS: CQ's politicians are pulling out all stops to convince News Corp to continue printing a hard copy newspaper for Central Queensland.

Pollies continue to lobby NewsCorp to save CQ’s newspapers

NOT prepared to give up without a fight, politicians have worked fervently to convince News Corp management not to go through with their plan to cease production of all Central Queensland newspapers.

A number of politicians including Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, and Queensland Senators Matt Canavan and Pauline Hanson have written to News Corp, with some able to raise their concerns in person with News Corp Australia chairman ­Michael Miller.

Ms Lauga spoke with Mr Miller on Tuesday, conveying her disappointment at News Corp's decision to cease printing CQ publications, highlighting the loss of jobs, revenue for newsagents and the reduced ability for some people to be able to access news.

ASKING QUESTIONS: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga shared an image of her video call with News Corp Australia Chairman Michael Miller.
ASKING QUESTIONS: Keppel MP Brittany Lauga shared an image of her video call with News Corp Australia Chairman Michael Miller.

While she was unable to reveal specifics of the conversation, she said Mr Miller told her that News Corp "were losing money and they consider the local newspapers are community papers but are not a community service".

Ms Lauga was unable to get traction with her suggestion that News Corp consider ­producing a revamped CQ-focused model incorporating The Morning Bulletin, Mirror and the Emerald-based production the CQ News.

Particularly worried about the region's elderly residents' ongoing access to local news, Mr O'Rourke said he would speak with Mr Miller on Tuesday.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga want to see a CQ-based newspaper continue to be produced for the region.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga want to see a CQ-based newspaper continue to be produced for the region.

Ms Landry said she would welcome a meeting with Mr Miller to discuss the decision made to cease printing.

Last Friday, she launched a petition calling for News Corp to immediately defer its decision to reduce more than 100 mastheads to online only, and to consider exploring all ­available options to keep these newspapers in print, including soliciting bids for the newspapers from local consortia and business people, merging proximal newspapers under a single new masthead or any other reasonable commercial option that allows for the physical printing of CQ newspapers.

POLITICAL SUPPORT: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's petition to Save Regional Newspapers has received unanimous support from all sides of politics to ensure CQ has a locally produced newspaper.
POLITICAL SUPPORT: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's petition to Save Regional Newspapers has received unanimous support from all sides of politics to ensure CQ has a locally produced newspaper.

She said they had collected more than 500 signatures for the online and hard copy version of the Save Regional Newspapers petition yesterday.

"My office has also called every newsagency we know in the electorate and emailed them copies to put in their shops," Ms Landry said.

"If anyone would like a copy for their own organisation or community group, get in touch with my office and they will organise a copy to be sent to you."

Senator Canavan said he reached out to News Corp and expressed his view that it was a devastating decision for regional communities who need to have a local voice.

"I urge those concerned about News Corp's decision to have their voice heard and sign Michelle Landry's petition to save regional newspapers," Senator Canavan said.

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan would like to see a crack down on Facebook and Google to ensure they paid for the news content they used.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan would like to see a crack down on Facebook and Google to ensure they paid for the news content they used.

"Whether we have a new local newspaper or The ­Morning Bulletin continues to be printed locally, it's clear the business model of local journalism is under threat from companies like Google and Facebook. The Federal Government is looking into ways to mitigate these multinational companies from 'gaming the system'."

Rockhampton region Mayor Margaret Strelow urged the community to get behind Ms Landry's petition and sign it like she had.

News Corp management were asked for comment and referred The Bully to previous statements on their decision.

Ms Landry's petition can be signed here: mailchi.mp/michellelandry/news-corp-petition

Ms Strelow believed it was essential to have a source of printed local news in our community.

"As a Council we're happy to work with News Corp or any other organisation that can make this possible," Cr Strelow said.

"We know that there are other community newspapers already actively looking at this region."

Labor's Queensland Senator Murray Watt said the need for good local journalism was something both he and Ms Landry could see eye-to-eye on and was supportive of her petition.

"Regional papers like the Bully are vital to holding governments of all political colours to account," Senator Watt said.

"There is no way the Federal Government would have backed down on shafting landholders near Shoalwater Bay, or paying our volunteer fireys, without the constant reporting by the Bully.

Senator Murray Watt believed local newspapers played a vital role in holding politicians to account. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Senator Murray Watt believed local newspapers played a vital role in holding politicians to account. (AAP Image/Darren England)

"It is a consolation that the Bulletin will live on in digital form, but for many people flicking through the newspaper pages while they have their morning coffee is a much-loved tradition and it will be sad to see that go."

Senator Watt said the loss of local newspapers would be sorely felt by those in the digital divide, including the elderly, who might not be as able to keep up with local news.

"Unfortunately it appears the Federal Government could have offered a lifeline to an industry in crisis much sooner, with essential funding from the Public Interest Newsgathering Fund (PING) yet to flow to media organisations. The Morrison Government should explain why," he said.

Ms Landry said applications for funding from the PING program were due by May 29.

"The Government would seek to allocate the funding as quickly as practicable after considering the applications," she said.

"If News Corp is successful in receiving funding, I will be seeking assurances from News Corp that the funding will go towards maintaining local jobs within their organisation in regional Queensland so people can continue reading a physical newspaper.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and LNP candidate for Keppel Adrian de Groot worry for those dependent on reading a hard copy newspaper.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and LNP candidate for Keppel Adrian de Groot worry for those dependent on reading a hard copy newspaper.

LNP candidate for Keppel Adrian de Groot said the loss of the region's newspapers wouldn't be limited to those job losses at News Corp but more broadly in the community with impacts on local newsagents, coffee shops and the transport industry.

"Not everybody is able to access news in digital form. I know a lot of older people in the community who can't access the internet or even use a computer properly," Mr de Groot said.

"To keep democracy balanced, we need to have all parts of the community be able to read newspapers in some shape or form."

One Nation's Keppel candidate Wade Rothery said politicians had a love, hate relationship with newspapers, but they played an important role in accountability which he didn't think other media would ever match.

One Nation's candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery hopes News Corp will reconsider their decision to stop publishing newspapers in Central Queensland.
One Nation's candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery hopes News Corp will reconsider their decision to stop publishing newspapers in Central Queensland.

"I'm not quite sure people fully understand the impact of this announcement," Mr Rothery said.

"Each of these papers have helped shape our communities by supporting projects that would otherwise have fallen on deaf ears.

"I hope News Corp bosses rethink this decision and come back to us with an undertaking to support regional news the same way in which it supports the capital city newspapers."

A former cadet journalist who worked with the Bowen Independent in 1989, NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan lamented the loss of the region's newspapers.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan started out as a cadet journalist working for the Bowen Independent in 1989.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan started out as a cadet journalist working for the Bowen Independent in 1989.

Mr Costigan said the job cuts and transition to digital-only mastheads were "inevitable" after a reported 40 per cent decline in advertising revenue and bleak economic forecasts.

"I think that is a crying shame because the local news will be lost," he said.

He said it was a shame that publications like Mackay's Daily Mercury and Rockhampton's Morning Bulletin had not been afforded the same status as the Cairns Post and the Townsville Bulletin.

NQ First leader Jason Costigan would like to see Mackay’s and Rockhampton’s newspapers preserved like Townsville’s and Cairn’s.
NQ First leader Jason Costigan would like to see Mackay’s and Rockhampton’s newspapers preserved like Townsville’s and Cairn’s.

Ms Landry's petition can be signed here: mailchi.mp/michellelandry/news-corp-petition


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