Without local media, who tells our stories?

Going, going, gone: The long-term significance of the loss of local newspapers is difficult to grasp. Photo: Shutterstock.

Going, going, gone: The long-term significance of the loss of local newspapers is difficult to grasp. Photo: Shutterstock.

A few years ago I was walking through a local shopping centre, working on my weight loss and eating a soft serve, when I saw one of those electric rocking horses they used to have outside almost every supermarket.

This was a rare chance at nostalgia I didn't want to let pass, so I paid my 50 cents and giddyupped.

So, I'm in the middle of my ride when an elderly gentleman stands in my path and just stares at me in shock.

Ever noticed how people save their least attractive face for when they're shocked at you?

What was his problem anyway?

Has he never seen a priest outside a supermarket, riding on an electric rocking horse ride, eating an ice-cream?

So I go over to him and I jab him in the belly, slap him in the face and poke him in the eye.

So he looks up at me - with his good eye - and says in shock "I can't believe a priest would do that!".

I happily explain to him in reply "Well you see, that's the beauty of it. You try telling somebody else about all this, that's what they'll say."

Of course, the above didn't happen (yet) but what if it did?

It's not big enough news to make the national and international headlines but it should at least make the local paper, if only to warn other unsuspecting locals.

Unfortunately - I would even use the word tragically here - the end of this last financial year will see an end to hundreds of regional newspapers across Australia, or at least, see them go digital only.

As is often the case these days, one of the biggest losers will be our elderly, many of whom do not have regular access to the internet either through desire or difficulty.

It's hard to grasp the immediate and long-term significance of the loss of local media.

Perhaps the bigger media outlets are the only places many are going to for their news now and the bigger outlets are downplaying, or are disinterested in the crisis.

Criticising your local newspaper content is not a new thing.

US sitcom Petticoat Junction back in the sixties had an episode about how their local newspaper was losing its relevance when its front-page news story was "THREE FROGS JUMP INTO LOCAL POND".

It's strange that people can become cynical about their local community and its news given that's where they have chosen to live.

I could make the argument that a loss in local media means a loss in local community, but many today sadly do not want much contact with their local community anyway.

Give them a smart phone and internet access and they'll happily lie on the lounge scrolling all day. But are they happier?

And what happens when rural communities are cheated out of what is rightfully theirs? Who will tell their story if nobody is reading local news?

What is the point of millions of Australians getting angry at Donald Trump and saddening their lives with fear and uncertainty they can do nothing to change?

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989) Stephen R Covey goes to lengths to explain we all have a circle of influence - those things we can change, and a circle of concern - those things that play on our mind.

Covey first explains the obvious: there are things within your influence you are concerned about and things you are not concerned about, and then there are things within your circle of concern that you can influence and there are things you cannot influence.

Then the late great man explains why some people are successful and some are not: the successful spend a good amount of time in that area where the two circles overlap; i.e. things they are concerned about that are also the things they can influence.

Unsuccessful people spend their time on either things they are concerned about but cannot influence or on things they can influence but even they have no real concern for.

It's a good thing to keep up with world events, but it is a wonderful thing to be informed and involved with your local community.

Losing rural media will make this very hard.

It's a good thing to keep up with world events, but it is a wonderful thing to be informed and involved with your local community. Losing rural media will make this very hard.

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This story Without local media, who tells our stories? first appeared on The Canberra Times.