Some of the local and regional Australian newspapers that are ceasing their print operations this week might be trying to stay positive with headlines such as “Into the Future” and “Legacy Lives On” but it’s hard not to read the melancholy between the lines. In May, News Corp Australia announced that about 100 small newspapers around the country would either shift to digital-only editions or close down altogether as part of budget cuts.
Of course, being able to survive – albeit only online – is still preferable to perishing entirely. But foregoing a print edition is still a huge loss. Local papers have rightly enjoyed a renewed relevance during the pandemic as they have sometimes turned into lifelines of information for their communities. Having a print edition is part of that role: it means the paper can reach all demographics and has the gravitas and authority that comes with representing a town or region.
Spending a lot of time indoors over the past few months has taught us that one cannot live with screens alone. Print has an unmatched power to chronicle the present; that’s something worth remembering, whatever the future brings.