Have your say on local news

Staff writers

Newspaper readers in the Latrobe Valley are being urged to have their say on the future of country media in Australia’s biggest survey on local news.

The survey, launched nationally this week, is part of the largest study of its kind in Australia, running for three years with almost $250,000 backing from the Australian Research Council, one of the federal government’s main competitive research funding agencies.

Deakin University, RMIT University and Country Press Australia, the peak regional media organisation, of which The Express is a member, are leading the study.

The project’s lead investigator, Deakin Associate Professor Kristy Hess, said the future of local newspapers depended on support from local audiences. The survey aims to give people a voice on ways to improve the sustainability of their local paper.

“If you read your local newspaper, then it’s absolutely vital you fill in this survey to show your support for local news. We are depending on you,” she said.

“We want to hear your ideas and feedback on the role of country newspapers in these digital times. We want to know what the paper means to you and how it might improve into the future.”

Project partner and Country Press Australia executive director Bruce Morgan said the project was as much about regional communities as it was about local media businesses.

“Local media outside metropolitan Australia is very much the journal of record for the towns and regions it represents,” Mr Morgan said.

“It is not exaggerating to say that, should we lose local media representation, it will impact not just on the fabric of those communities, but the very principles of democracy. That is, the ability to record, champion, challenge and hold accountable. That is why this highly-credible, well-funded research is vital to those communities and their future.”

The survey should take up to 10 minutes and will ask a range of questions that relate to your views on local newspapers.

All participants have a chance to win one of 10 new-release Apple iPads.

The survey will run until the end of November. Visit this link now to start the survey: localnewsinnovation.org