Since November 30, 1971.

Statement: Regional journalism funding welcome, but more needed

Immediate release // 16 April 2020

The Melbourne Press Club welcomes relief for Australian media and investment in regional journalism but more needs to be done.

Yesterday the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts announced for regional journalism a $50 million Public Interest News Gathering program.

The Elliott Newspaper group recently stood down all staff and suspended traditional newspaper operations in Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang.

Australian Community Media, publisher of 11 community mastheads in Victoria alone, has also stopped producing all non-daily newspapers.

“Regional newspapers are the heart and soul of their local communities, providing an important voice that might otherwise not be heard,” Rural Press Club of Victoria president James Wagstaff said.

“Some of these newspapers have been publishing for a century or more. They have survived droughts, floods, the Depression and embraced new technologies with gusto. These papers have supported their local community in their times of need and now it’s time to support them.

“It is good to see the government taking action to help shore up the future of what is a critical industry for regional Australia.”

The Melbourne Press Club is a strong advocate for quality journalism both in Melbourne and in rural and regional Victoria. This is supported with the annual Quill award for Regional and Rural Journalism.

The 2019 Quill for Regional and Rural Journalism was won by Charmayne Allison and Cath Grey from the Riverine Herald with their entry “Breaking the Silence”, which was a powerful and insightful series revealing the personal costs of mental health issues in regional Victoria.

They say their work is fundamental in “highlighting the particular challenges of life in regional and rural Victoria”.

“This year a strong local voice has provided a massive lift in awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Last year a campaign — led by our paper — secured a new school for the region’s handicapped children,” they said.

“Without a strong local media, regional Victoria will get lost in what is increasingly a city state as there will be no one to speak for the people.”

The Melbourne Press Club continues to provide opportunities for regional and rural journalists to be recognised for their work through the annual Quill Awards, as well as opportunities for mentoring via The Edit program.

Cathy Bryson, CEO

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