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Rural rescue package ‘supports reliable independent news’

Lecturer praises federal government for recognising the importance of local news outlets to regional communities

The federal government’s $50 million rescue package for regional news outlets affected by the Covid-19 crisis has been welcomed by a media academic at Charles Sturt University in rural New South Wales.

Kay Nankervis, a lecturer with the school of communication and creative industries, says the package will help regional news publishers who faced closure due to loss of income from advertising revenue.

“With a recession-style economic drop in people making and selling wares in a Covid-19 world, those already vulnerable media outlets reliant on advertising dollars haven’t stood a chance,” she said in a university statement.

Over the past eight years, more than 3,000 jobs in Australian journalism have been lost as a result of declining revenue from advertising caused by competition with internet competitors such as Google and Facebook. Many of these job losses have been rural journalists, news producers and photographers. 

Nankervis said regional audiences were “still waiting” for alternative forms of authoritative independent news and information to emerge.

“At the moment, it’s social media, and with that concentration comes all the problems of relying on those often unclear and untrustworthy sources of information and commentary.”

She said the government’s rescue package “recognises how important reliable, independent journalism, news and information is to local communities”.