Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has described regional newspapers as ‘absolutely vital’ and as the ‘lifeblood of their communities’ before offering to help ensure that a larger share of the Queensland state government advertising budget be directed at communicating with regional Queenslanders through independent regional newspapers.
The Premier made the comments at the Queensland Country Press Association (QCPA) conference in Brisbane last week, referring to the ‘resurgence’ of independent newspaper publishers in Queensland as a contributing factor.
The announcement from Premier Palaszczuk follows the recent Victorian government commitment to ensuring one full page of government advertising is placed in every regional newspaper every week.
The Premier’s pledge also aligns with key findings from a recently released Deakin University report on media innovation which found that, “Securing the future of quality and reliable news and information platforms in non-metropolitan areas is in the national interest.”
The Deakin report refers to numerous Senate inquiries examining aspects of rural and regional news since 2016, as well as the Digital Platforms Inquiry, conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and a parliamentary inquiry into the future of local newspapers, and concluded that, “Simply put, it is now widely understood that local news matters to our democracy, but it has struggled and requires support.
“Our research suggests government policies and advertising spending is the single most influential factor in providing baseline surety to the long-term sustainability of small, independently owned news outlets in rural, regional and suburban Australia.”
The QCPA conference and awards night broke several records including receiving the most nominations for awards ever.
Journalist Wendy Hughes from On Our Selection News sister publication the Pittsworth Sentinel was awarded third place in the Best News Photo category.
Delegates travelled from across regional Queensland and other states to attend, including Mareeba, Dubbo, Narrabri, Gippsland and the Barossa Valley.
This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 1 June 2023.