‘Disappointed’: councillors call on company to do more
POLITICIANS at every level have been quick to express their disappointment with the decision to cease printing of the Western Star, a newspaper that dates back to 1875.
Last week, Newscorp Australia announced a host of changes to the business model, including a move to digital-only for this newspaper from July 1. Other mastheads, like the Balonne Beacon and Rural Weekly will cease publication all together.
Maranoa mayor Tyson Golder was in a meeting with all southwest Queensland mayors in Charleville on Thursday when the news broke, and instantly was disappointed and confused.
"On a personal level, I am extremely disappointed in Newscorp's decision. I believe they should have consulted with the community and given a period of three to six months so a solution could have been reached," he said.
"There are other alternatives, like going once a week or increasing the cost of the paper.
"None of that consultation was done with the community or council … it's about working with the community that have existing alongside the paper for more than 100 years."
Councillor Julie Guthrie was with Cr Golder at the South West Regional Economic Development Meeting when news broke, and said all council representatives across the six councils were shocked at the news.
"We all agreed we wanted to voice our disquiet and our disappointment that a decision was made without the community that would impact our community," Cr Guthrie said.
"Without a newspaper, we lose our opportunities for communicating, accessing information. Local papers play such an important role in the lives of people in our town. It is our first point of reference foe what is happening.
"The change to digital only leaves behind those people who don't have digital literacy and also those in our regions with poor internet connection. This will particularly be devastating for our older generation."
Job loss was another point of concern, with councillor Cam O'Neil also voicing his disappointment at what the transition would mean for employment.
"To lose any position in our community is one too many, and to hear of redundancies at the Western Star is a major hit from this decision to go digital," he said.
"I thank the journalists for their commitment to journalism and reporting on things that matter in the community.
"The Western Star provides a pivotal role in holding council decisions to account."
Maranoa MP David Littleproud was also quick to pipe up, expressing his disappointment at the closures.
"I urge Newscorp to consider the implications of what these job cuts mean for towns which have been battling severe drought, bushfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
Mr Littleproud also called on the company to take into account the wider demographic who may not have access to online sources, and or are unable to read news digitally.
"The reporting and printing of news is particularly important in servicing the needs of towns from Charleville to Warwick and providing people of all ages with access to what's going on," he said.
"For many of our seniors, printed content is their only way to stay informed with news from their community.
"These publications keep us up to date with happenings in the community, unite residents and support local business growth and development through local advertising.
"It's a disappointing day for media in Maranoa."