Balonne Shire Council Angry Over Loss of Local Paper
Balonne Shire Council has condemned the decision by News Corp Australia to axe the Balonne Beacon which has been part of the community since 1904.
As part of the News Corp cost-cutting restructure, the Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News and Rural Weekly will cease publication, with the Western Star going to digital subscriptions only.
Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O’Toole said News Corp appears to be cutting their regional editorial teams in half, with forecasts the journalism team covering St George, Roma, Charleville, Chinchilla and Dalby could be slashed from nine to four.
“Now, with limited numbers of journalists covering an even larger area, it will be difficult for the Balonne Shire to have its voice heard, increasing our isolation and disconnect from the wider world.”
Cr O’Toole said the Balonne Shire has already felt the impact of News Corp rationalisation.
“In recent years, we’ve seen News Corp cost-cutting reduce our once cherished newspaper to a shadow of itself, and with their bottom-line focus I doubt their digital platform will serve us any better.”
Cr O’Toole said the local masthead provided an invaluable communication pathway for the community and many residents will be unable to convert to digital subscriptions.
“We have areas of poor internet connection in our region, and a computer illiterate elderly community.”
She said navigating the Balonne Beacon digital subscription to find local news can be difficult.
“Finding local news could become even more complicated with suggestions the Balonne Beacon website will be incorporated into the Toowoomba Chronicle site.”
Cr O’Toole said it is sad and disappointing that the community will no longer have a local journalist scrutinising the Balonne Shire Council actions and opening up robust community discussion.
“So many great young journalists have cut their teeth at the Balonne Beacon and gone on to brilliant careers, I’m worried the loss of so many regional newspapers will wipe out a valuable training ground for the next generation of media.”
Cr O’Toole said Council will investigate ways to create an alternate communication pathway for residents.
“This is a community that has resolutely faced droughts, floods and pandemics, and while we mourn the loss of our local paper, we will find a way to replace its vital role in our region.”