Recognition of the “absolutely vital” role of regional newspapers came from state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when she opened the Queensland Country Press Association conference.
Referring to the “resurgence” of independent newspaper publishers as a contributing factor to their position as “the lifeblood of their communities”, she promised a larger share of state government advertising budget to be directed at communicating with regional Queenslanders through independent regional newspapers.
Premier Palaszczuk, who is also minister for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, spoke at the opening at the conference in Brisbane on Friday.
Her commitment on advertising follows a similar pledge from the Victorian government, in their case guaranteeing a full page of government advertising in every regional newspaper every week.
It also aligns with findings from a recent 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 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. Delegates travelled from across regional Queensland and from all eastern states to attend, including Mareeba in far north Queensland, as well as Dubbo and Narrabri in central NSW, Gippsland in Victoria, and the Barossa and Clare valleys of South Australia.