Local news and local jobs at risk following meta announcement

Regional and local publishers like The Lockyer & Somerset Independent are the major, and in most cases sole, providers of local public interest journalism in their communities. Picture: TLSI

Australia’s largest organisation of newspaper publishers has attacked the announcement by Meta that it will no longer negotiate deals with publishers once current agreements expire.

Country Press Australia represents more than 230 regional, rural and outer suburban publications across the nation.

In a meeting and via public statements, Meta has made it clear that Country Press Australia’s agreement with Meta will not be renewed.

This is a devastating blow to CPA members who are party to the agreement. All are publishers of regional and local public interest journalism.

Meta has been providing grants to Country Press Australia publishers which has provided vital sustainability.

There will be publishers who close the doors and won’t be able to continue supporting their communities with news in the wake of this announcement. These regional and local publishers are the major, and in most cases sole, providers of local public interest journalism in their communities.

Meta’s actions undermine public confidence in the media sector.

The most popular Facebook pages in most regional and rural communities are those of the local news publishing company, yet Meta says people don’t go to Facebook for news or political content.

Sadly, jobs will definitely be lost, but it’s hard to put a number on this, given the already well-documented challenges our industry faces.

The reaction from our members in the aftermath of the announcement has been one of deep concern, alarm and even anger.

The federal government must act to give assurance to our industry and to support the democratic infrastructure that is the newspaper industry. And it needs to move swiftly, decisively and with purpose.

Facebook reaped the benefits of our members’ unique local content for many years. It has paid those local and regional publishers for only the last three years and will now not renew its agreement.

A democracy cannot function without a healthy news sector, and this is now heavily at risk in regional and local communities after Meta’s decision.

It is important that the federal government responds swiftly to this decision and considers all possible action including designating Meta under the News Media Bargaining Code.