KAP’S REGIONAL JOURNALISM RESCUE PLAN
KAP’S REGIONAL JOURNALISM RESCUE PLAN
Katter’s Australian Party has today launched its Regional Journalism Rescue Plan in a bid to secure State and Federal Government support for regional journalists, photographers and cameramen who continue to be affected by the sector’s unprecedented instability.
The Regional Journalism Rescue Plan consummates KAP’s support for job security of journalist in Regional Australia, local news needs to be developed and created by local voices, the push to develop this plan has come to fruition after the Queensland Government made changes to legislation that prevented Government bodies from advertising in regional print publications.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said in recent years Queensland’s rural and regional communities had been failed by media bosses trading regional papers and bulletins for metro ratings, and that the Government needed to make legislative changes in support of the industry.
Mr Katter said regional journalists committed to informing residents in regional areas were being left jobless through inaction by the Government as well as callousness by the private sector, relegating a once-thriving industry into disrepair.
He said rural and regional residents, unable to access local and reliable news content, would be the greatest victims of the trend.
More than 125 Australian newspapers were impacted last year when News Corp restructured its print business, with the majority of papers closed and some moved to digital-only mediums.
News Corp will also cease distributing those titles it still publishes, like the Townsville Bulletin and Courier Mail to certain parts of regional Queensland at the end of September – this includes regional centres like Mount Isa and Longreach.
While the paper cuts had been difficult, Mr Katter said the issues were not limited to the print sector.
He said he was equally disappointed that Win News was moving to a state-wide evening bulletin as part of its merger with Nine, which would cost dozens of jobs in the regions.
“A well-informed public is vital to the functioning of a democracy and while I’m sure certain political leaders in our midst would prefer less scrutiny, KAP MPs are not among them,” Mr Katter said.
“Local journalism is on its knees, and this is in no one’s best interest,
“If the Government and media organisations work cohesively, we believe new opportunities can be created for journalism in regional Queensland.
“Moreover, this plan could serve as a print for the rest of the country.”
In this aim, the KAP is today proposing its Regional Journalism Rescue Plan, which includes:
- Legislating regional quotas with regards to broadcast news (e.g. a minimum percentage of regionally-based reporters must comprise an entire network’s staff), similar to content quotas legislated for the networks by the Federal Government 1.
- Immediate reinstatement of legislation requiring the State Government to advertise its official notices in print publications in regional communities where they exist.
- In the short-term, subsidies for remote newspaper delivery costs to ensure papers are still delivered to all communities in Queensland.
- The creation of other incentives for regional community media organisations to continue trading and employing local talent in journalism.
Mr Katter said society was poorer if there were fewer professional journalists working in local communities.
“When it comes to news, local content is key; we need trusted local media voices to inform our communities of local events and issues,” he said.
“I applaud those start-up newspapers that have popped up in place of closed publications – as communities and as a Government, we should now be doing all we can to support them.”
Greg Watson from the Queensland Country Press Association said there were some real glimmers of hope in Queensland’s print sector.
“There is a resurgence going on in Queensland Country Newspapers with over thirty news and/or independent publication start-ups since News Corp have stopped printing in regional communities,” he said.
“These regional independent outlets have been strongly welcomed by the communities; I think when the papers closed there was an outpouring from communities who have lost their local newspaper.”
Mr Katter said the KAP would write to both the State and Federal Governments seeking their assistance in providing a strong and sustainable future for regional journalism.
Further KAP Kennedy MP Bob Katter will meet with the Federal Government’s Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, at the next sitting of Parliament to discuss the decline of regional media.
Mr Katter said that regional TV stations had a monopoly over the market because they are handed out a limited number of licences and should be reminded of their obligations to provide local news.
“One station in regional Queensland has stopped all its local news and another has cut back to a state-wide service, this isn’t acceptable,” he said.
“We will have lost around 30 reporters and camera operators in North Queensland and the Federal Government has just rolled over; the regional networks need to be hauled in front of the Minister and read the riot act.
“We need our stories told in the regions; the cities already ignore us enough as it is.”
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