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Newspaper closures, job losses in the regional media industry

September 2020

Mount Gambier’s only newspaper, the Border Watch, has announced that it will close down after 159 years.

Steeped in history, the newspaper has been part of Mount Gambier’s social and cultural fabric for generations.

Management of the media group has blamed a downward spiral in advertising revenue, along with the pandemic, for its shock demise.

According to the ABC, nearly 40 employees — who were given just three days’ notice of the closure — have rallied together last Thursday to produce the final edition, which paid tribute to the newspaper’s extensive history and editorial achievements.

In the meantime, Media company Southern Cross Austereo has announced a restructure of its radio operations, resulting in the loss of 38 jobs.

Regional radio stations within the Hit Network bore brunt of the bad news, in which SCA will delete local breakfast shows in favour of a statewide networked program.

The changes will take effect from this week.

SCA chief content officer Dave Cameron blamed the move on the challenges presented by the COVID-19 environment.

"The changes will mean that unfortunately a number of our local breakfast shows will be impacted, and we would like to thank our dedicated and talented people who are affected today by this new approach," he said.

The announcement came on the day SCA reported an 18.2 per cent drop in revenue.

Revenue was $540.8 million across the business for the 2019-20 financial year, compared to $661 million the year prior.

In making the announcement, SCA chief executive Grant Blackley said radio continued to be a focus of the company.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said the job and show cuts means regional communities will lose their voice.

MEAA spokesman Adam Portelli said the loss of jobs and shows would be a great loss to the regions.

"It means that the majority of regional communities are now losing their particular voice," he said.

"All of this, for us, highlights the need for the Federal Government to actually get serious about supporting regional journalism and start putting their money where their mouth is."

Mr Portelli said the radio job cuts came off the back of recent TV and print restructures that have seen the closure of many local newspapers and the loss of nightly local television news.

The loss of local radio shows took away what had been a traditional training ground for young broadcasters, he said.

"You do find people who get their start, learned their trade at the local radio station or the regional newspaper, who then go on to work in the capital cities for bigger newspapers, broadcasters or TV stations.

 

Greek Tribune

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