He might have BuzzFeed News in Australia reach for headlines last week but digital startup was just one of the victims of the increasing number of media victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Five editorial staff at BuzzFeed have lost their jobs, but across the country hundreds of people have retreated in the already fractured media landscape. It is unclear how many will return to their posts.
At the north end of the country belongs to the Cape family and Torres News stopped the press after 60 years in March when distribution became impossible and advertisements dried up. In the Victorian area, locally owned mastheads enter the second century forced to close as coronaviruses began to devour advertising revenue.
Sunraysia Daily was supposed to celebrate its hundredth birthday, but the owner of Elliott Newspaper Group made it The decision “to cut the gut” to delay all newspaper publishing operations in Mildura, Swan Hill and Shellfish, despite promising they will return when the economy recovers.
The Public Interest Journalism Initiative documents newsroom changes across Australia using visualization tools.
Australia News Room Mapping Project aims to track the health of the Australian news industry and has counted 157 news rooms that have been temporarily closed or for good since January 2019.
“This crisis is unprecedented and for Australia it is three times the long-term influence of digital platforms, the coronavirus effect, which unfortunately can produce some irreversible changes, and forest fires have an effect,” said the chair of the Public Interest Journalism Initiative. Allan Fels to Australian Guardians.
“Journalism of the public interest is an important part of our community and our political system. This keeps the public informed; it helps the public monitor what the government, the court, and so on do; this is an antidote to corruption, malpractice, and the inability to manage the public sector and whistleblowing in the private sector. “
Some of the massacres preceded the coronavirus, which was the announcement of a bomb in early March that the Australian Associated Press news agency and its 200 journalists and 100 photo journalists, who provided daily headlines, would become closed by major shareholders Nine Entertainment and News Corp Australia.
Staff have suffered from uncertainty for months after the company started 11 o’clock conversation with the unexpected bid, and the fate of the 85-year-old agency due to close next month is still unknown.
AAP CEO Bruce Davidson said there was “no further news” about wire sales but that he would ask the board about extending the company’s closing date on June 26 “if the sale did not occur”.
– Gus McCubbing (@GusMcCubbing) May 15, 2020
The effects of the advertising industry which were severely hit by Coronavirus have not saved the biggest media companies.
Two regional and community newspaper giants in the country, Australian Community Media and Australia’s News Corp, have suspended printing of dozens of non-daily publications and laid off or laid back hundreds of staff.
The media empire Rupert Murdoch chose to suspend the printing of 60 of his local newspapers including Courier Wentworth and Mosman and the Manly daily in New South Wales and Preston Leader and Stonnington Leader in Melbourne. News Corp does not rule out redundancies in suspended titles in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
A report in The Australian on Monday said “as many community titles are suspended as possible continue only as digital “ and revealed that the company aligned itself as a “high-quality digital journalism publisher”, showing that the print products at News Corp were winding down.
At Murdoch’s metropolitan masthead – which includes the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun – there have been forced leave, part-time work and nine-day fortnights.
Michael Miller, the company’s chief executive, told staff “the fall in business confidence has an impact on the advertising revenue of all media businesses”.
Layoffs occur when hearings increase
In the magazine the picture is also bleak. Bauer Media has thrown 200 staff into unemployment and closed seven fashion, lifestyle and celebrity magazines, a move which has been described as having tear the heart out of the industry.
Some losses have not been made public. Australian Guardian can reveal that Nine is undergoing a new round of redundancies at the Sydney Morning Herald, especially in parts that stopped printing due to coronavirus. The company declined to comment but sources said there were eight job losses, four directly caused by coronavirus.
ABC, preparing for budget cuts to be announced after June, has secretly laid off most of its casual workforce with one week’s notice, the Australian Guardian understands. Victims work in the latest news and affairs in TV news and radio programs and some have worked five days a week on a six-month contract.
Regional newspapers that have survived the recent massacre and are still printing have experienced a serious decline in the number of readers in the past year. The number of readers of NT News News Corp fell 38.5% in the last 12 months to March 2020. Readers of Newcastle Herald and Launceston Examiner from Australian Community Media both fell by more than 14%. The only stable publication in the category over the past year is the Canberra Times, according to Roy Morgan reader data released this week.
All this media pain has come at the time readers and viewers flock to the news, with the top 10 news sites up 54% from the previous four weeks at the end of March due to coronavirus news.
University of Canberra Studies found that news consumption had increased during the pandemic, with 70% of respondents saying they access news at least once a day, compared to 56% in 2019.
The news industry is under huge pressure coming into 2020 but the coronavirus has accelerated its decline.
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance President Paul Murphy said the coronavirus “led to the crisis that underlies the industry” which was driven by a decrease in advertising share for news companies in Australia.
“The government finally placed a regional fund of $ 50 million recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last year,” Murphy told the Australian Guardian.
“I think most large media organizations report greater audiences and people rely on trusted news sources – but the revenue doesn’t follow.
“The two biggest holes are if nothing replaces AAP and finds a way to overcome the growing local and regional news desert.”
Hope for ‘tangible results’
This industry places a lot of confidence in work in a mandatory code that will force digital platforms like Google and Facebook to compensate news media companies for using their content.
The ACCC makes recommendations in digital platform reports in mid-2019.
A few weeks after its chairman Rod Sims warned that reform was “urgent” because the media company was in deep trouble, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, instructed him to develop a mandatory code of conduct for the digital giant.
Murphy said the state of journalism after the coronavirus was “in the hands of the government and the ACCC for the most part”.
“There must be a way to make this digital platform pay for the content they carry,” Murphy said.
“If not, you will only continue to see a decline. I mean there are clearly other policy tools that the government can use such as tax concessions.”
Fels, a former regulator himself, is optimistic.
“I believe the mandatory code will produce tangible results and if not, the government will put other pressure on Google and Facebook such as taxes on their revenues,” he said. “I am broadly impressed with the steps taken by the government and its focus mainly on regional and suburban media. Of course we think it should be more but very big. “
Murphy said no one could be sure in what form the mastheads suspended at ACM and News Corp would return.
“Years of redundancies and cost-cutting make the papers empty.”
“That depends on how the advertising market rebounds,” Murphy said. “Print comes at a considerable cost and if advertising revenue isn’t there, it might speed up the move to online publishing alone.”
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