New community newspapers to launch

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As the major newspaper publishers pull out of the regions, new newspapers are set to emerge, saving printing jobs and possibly plants, according to reports on Peter Coleman's GX Press newspaper news site.

Born again: new newspapers set to rise in regional communites

Coleman said new newspapers are being launched in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, with the middle of the month the launch date for many.

Major regional newspaper publishers ACM and News Corp have pulled, shelved or closed nearly 300 community and regional papers between them since Covid struck. Many smaller publishers have also stopped printing. WA's major publisher Seven West has just appointed former Fairfax CEO Greg “Digital First” Heywood to restructure its newspaper business, with print closures expected to follow.

However, former staff at many of the now defunct brands are setting up on their own. Coleman reports Burnett Today as a typical example, due to be launched 16 July, in what is now known as the news desert of central Queensland. The Burnett Today team is made up of former News staffers made redundant.

But printing will take place far from Burnett in the former Rural Press site in North Richmond, NSW, now owned by ACM, which, according to Coleman's report, has been keen to get behind the new paper and many others that are set to launch.

Community newspapers have been published in Australia since 1820 when the Derwent Gazette was launched and have been a core part of the fabric of regional life since. However, the Covid crisis caused a collapse in advertising, rendering many smaller papers unviable in the eyes of their owners, especially the big players.

Many of the print plants for community newspapers are now lying idle; ACM has mothballed four, News is about to move its SE Queensland Yandina and Maurrie sites into one, with fears for others.

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