By Claire Ottaviano
AFTER more than 35 years of bringing local news into the heart of the community, Echo News is now turning to its readers for support.
Since March, almost 200 regional and community newspapers have ceased printing – on top of the 106 local and regional papers that closed over the previous decade.
Echo News, the only surviving community-based paper in the eastern region covering the Cities of Swan and Kalamunda and Shire of Mundaring, strives to be the heartbeat and eyes of the community.
Not that long ago it was standard to see a local journalist in the chamber of every local government council meeting and to see photo jounalists and photographers snapping away at local events such as Remembrance Day services and school fetes, but now we are a rarity.
At Echo News we proudly continue to provide these services.
We are the community noticeboard for all the local events, sports and announcements and we feature local advertisers to promote local goods and services.
In 2021, through COVID-19 and the February 1 devastating Wooroloo Bushfire we have remained.
You can support locally based journalism by emailing your federal and state members of parliament asking them to stand up for the communities they serve (see end of story).
Tell them, the stories from regional Australia and local communities matter and they need to step in and make sure our stories continue to be told by urgently implementing policy initiatives to sustain regional and community journalism.
Readers can also sign a petition that will be presented to the House of Representatives.
The petition calls on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to ‘designate’ Google and Facebook under the News Media Bargaining Code to force Google and Facebook to negotiate payment for all publishers who genuinely serve the public interest.
Earlier this year, in the aftermath of the Wooroloo bushfire and a third COVID lockdown, Facebook’s Australian news ban saw everything on Echo News’ Facebook page temporarily wiped out.
As a paper-based community paper, we saw a surge in the uptake of our bulk newspaper dispensers which was an indication that the want and need for local news and services was ever present.
Under the News Media Bargaining Code, Google and Facebook have struck deals with a small number of media outlets but refused to negotiate with the majority of Australian news providers – including a range of high-quality outlets that meet the criteria set out in the Code.
By publishing public interest journalism these providers fight misinformation and inject expertise into the media ecosystem.
Only designation by the Treasurer can bring Facebook to the negotiation table.
Readers can also continue to support Echo News by shopping local and supporting our advertisers.