News Corp Australia merges more than 20 regional newspapers with capital city mastheads – The Guardian

Local websites absorbed by the Daily Telegraph and Courier-Mail in what it calls ‘world-class, hyperlocal news technology’
More than 20 of Rupert Murdoch’s regional newspapers – including the 160-year-old Northern Star in Lismore – have quietly been merged with News Corp Australia’s city mastheads.
The media giant would not reveal how many regional websites had been absorbed by the Daily Telegraph and the Courier-Mail but Guardian Australia has counted at least 20 by monitoring their subscription pages as they’ve moved over.
The strategy follows the company’s decision to stop printing 112 newspapers last year, including 36 which closed and 76 which became stand-alone digital mastheads.
Now many of those are being subsumed by their state-based paper, as a raft of South Australian local Messenger papers were last year.
Queensland locals who want to read the Noosa News or the Gympie Times, for example, will have to buy a digital subscription to the Courier-Mail, where their local paper will be a tab behind the paywall on the metro paper’s website.
The titles that still remain independent include the Toowoomba Chronicle, the Cairns Post, the Gold Coast Bulletin and the Townsville Bulletin.
In New South Wales readers of the Byron Shire News or the Tweed Daily News will have to subscribe to the Daily Telegraph, which will host a local section for the areas.
After the closure of the print edition of my hometown (Lismore) newspaper, The Northern Star, there's further integration with The Daily Telegraph. I assume this is happening with other regional newspapers too? It seems to be heading in a particular direction?
The change is the latest move by News Corp to reduce its costs in regional news after shutting dozens of printed editions last year during the Covid-19 crisis, although the company insists there are no associated job cuts.
“We’re enhancing our commitment to regional communities through continued boots-on-the-ground reporting with investment in world-class, hyperlocal news technology,” a spokesman said.
“By using a single login and password across all devices our audiences can access their local news and information and the best journalism in metro, state and international news. No jobs will be lost as a result of these initiatives.”
The company has not revealed the merger strategy publicly although it has run similar announcements in individual mastheads, which has sold the change as an exciting digital future.
Members of the community have paddled out at Byron's Main Beach this morning to call for Netflix to scrap plans for the Byron Baes reality show. READ THE STORY:
“In the coming days, that delivery method will evolve again as the Northern Star finds a new home with its own stand-alone section of the Daily Telegraph,” the Star reported.
“The change will deliver a faster website, quicker coverage of breaking news across NSW, Australia and beyond, as well as quick access to rewards, supercoach, and other great features of a statewide website.”
Last month the company foreshadowed the move when it announced it was introducing “hyperlocal news technology”.
“Whether you’re in Gympie or Grafton, Byron or Bundaberg, you’ll be able to tune in to the latest news locally or from across the network to follow what’s happening in your community,” said News Corp’s executive chairman, Michael Miller.
Tim Burrowes, whose book on the changing media landscape, Media Unmade, will be published in July, said News was making a tactical move.
“In the face of having taken decisions about closing some of the unprofitable local papers, then some otherwise lost readers might be retained by attempting to move them across to the state mastheads,” he said.
“And it will also be an interesting experiment. Very few publications around the world have successfully funded sustainable local digital mastheads. Doing so as part of a wider offering perhaps increases the change of that succeeding. But it still looks like a long shot.”
In another blow to local news, News Corp advised some regional Queensland newsagents that it would stop delivering its titles to them in September, citing the “very high cost” of distribution.
The Australian Newsroom Mapping Project has counted 198 “contractions” or declines in newsrooms between January 2019 and April 2021. The project is part of the Public Interest Journalism Initiative and is documenting changes in news production and availability.
The initiative’s chairman, Prof Allan Fels, has warned that “news deserts” are growing in size across the country, and about one-third of local council areas had no local media coverage.


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