Things are looking hopeful for regional journalism, according to one researcher at the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC).
The University released The Local News Consumers report, showing almost three in 10 (29%) regional news consumers saying they would be willing to pay for a local news service.
This is an increase of the national average of those currently paying for a news service, which sits at just 14%.
Lead researcher Dr Sora Park said it was important to note the survey of 2,000 adult regional news consumers was taken before the pandemic.
“I think the biggest takeaway from this is that there is some optimism in the future of regional news because at the moment it is in turmoil,” she said.
“There have been very negative views about the future of regional news, although it was done pre-covid.
“We do see that regional news consumers have a high demand for local news, and they do support it. They do see the unique niche it offers.”
Over 150 newsrooms have closed nationally in the past 18 months, while recent cuts to ABC will result in over 250 job losses.
The survey found six in 10 (62%) people who had experienced a loss of local news in their area said it had a negative impact on their community, while almost half (46%) reported it had reduced the amount of local information.
Dr Park said as well as the statistics, a string of newly created newspapers had shown the demand for local news.
“Twenty-eight new local newspapers emerged during the pandemic, probably as a replacement so there is this gap for local advertising and a gap for local readers,” she said.
“While they are small and we don’t know the profitability of them yet, it shows that local areas want focused content.”