A still from Monday's Media Watch on the future of media. Photo: ABC
A still from Monday's Media Watch on the future of media. Photo: ABC

Monday’s edition of Media Watch was grim viewing not just for those in media but for anyone who cares about the future of media. For once it wasn’t pointing out howlers or malpractice but instead looking at the parlous state of the industry.

The program was a follow up on its 2016 episode which said mainstream media groups and especially newspapers were nearing the brink of extinction because of the relentless fall in ad revenue.

Since then there have been further cutbacks at News Ltd, Channel Ten and also at Fairfax (publishers of the North West Star) with a Senate inquiry into the problem hearing around 2500 journalism jobs have disappeared in Australia since 2011.

The Star has not been immune from the cutbacks having lost several staff in advertising and journalism in recent years.

It’s not that readers are deserting the mastheads the number of people who read them either in print or online has never been higher – a fact we can testify as we broke through the million page views a month for the first time ever this April.

The problem however, as Media Watch says, is vanishing revenue.

Newspaper sales have plummeted and “dollars from print advertising have turned into cents from digital ads.”

The two tech giants Google and Facebook are taking 85% of what digital profits there are and Australians –particularly younger ones – don’t feel the need to pay for news when they get it free on those platforms.

Senator Nick Xenophon is calling for a Google and Facebook tax to save Australian media companies and the Senate committee looking at public interest journalism considers a similar solution.

No one concedes this would be easy to implement – assuming Google and Facebook – were prepared to pay up but it does seem radical solutions are necessary.

So my question to our readers is, would it matter to you if we went under? Are we relevant to your lives? Do you or would you pay for our services? What would you lose given ABC is still here? Would it be an issue to Mount Isa or the wider region? We want to start an honest conversation about the future of media in the North West and want to hear what you think. Email me at derek.barry@fairfaxmedia.com.au