WIN News cuts deal regional communities devastating blow

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Regional communities have been left reeling, following WIN News’ announcement it would be axing four commercial television newsrooms in New South Wales and Queensland.

Key points:

  • WIN News has announced it will cease operations in four regional bureaus: Orange, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Bundaberg
  • 30 jobs will be cut, taking effect from next Friday
  • WIN management said they will attempt to redeploy staff across the network’s remaining offices

In a letter to staff, journalists and camera operators at WIN’s Orange, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Bundaberg bureaus were told they would not have jobs after next Friday.

“The decision … was based on the commercial viability of funding news in these areas,” the statement reads.

“Changing content consumption habits and increased competition from digital content providers, that don’t face that same regulatory conditions that challenge traditional media, has led to a reduction in demand for local news bulletins in these regions.”

It is understood approximately 30 jobs will be cut.

WIN management have told the staff they will attempt to redeploy them at the network’s remaining offices, which they said are not facing the same challenges.

Annabelle Amos is the chief of staff at WIN News Central West, based in Orange.

“It’s a sad day for regional news, but we will push on and go out with a bang,” she said on Twitter.

Community will be ‘upset’

Alison Dance, a senior reporter at WIN News Central West, said the axing was a devastating blow for regional Australia.

“Still working out my next steps but wherever they take me, it’ll be supporting our rural people,” Ms Dance tweeted.

Griffith City Mayor John Dal Broi told the ABC he was shocked by the news but was committed to finding alternative options for his community.

“That’s the only news service we receive — intermittently at best — and if they’re going to withdraw that I’m sure the community will be upset,” Mr Dal Broi said.

“We may have to go to other networks to see if they would be interested in having some form of presence.”

Labor’s spokesman for Rural Affairs, Mick Veitch, said it was a major blow for regional communities.

“Essentially, those regional communities, if they want those jobs to stay, they need to rally really hard and I do fear this decision has been made and there is no coming back from it,” he said.

But he said it was a familiar tale for regional communities.

“This is a decision being made by a commercial entity,” Mr Veitch said.

“I think it is more about what it means for regional New South Wales who are going through a huge drought at the moment.

“To lose any job from our regional economy is a critical issue for us. Our economies need money to be spent.”

Loss ‘makes democracy poorer’

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance director of media Katelin McInerney said announcements like this one will keep coming and it is tech giants like Facebook and Google that are partly to blame.

“The fragmentation of audience and the influence of massive advertising publishers like Facebook and Google are taking a huge toll in the Australian media market,” Ms McInerney said.

“It means businesses like WIN are getting less money through the door.

“These kinds of consequences are certainly going to continue unless we see support come from other areas, probably the government, in order to bolster journalists remaining in these communities.”

Ms McInerney said the loss of any news media outlet makes Australian democracy poorer.

“These are communities who cannot get their news elsewhere,” she said.

“The fact of the matter is these newsrooms are vital to telling the stories of regional Australia. These are communities that will feel the loss of these journalists very deeply because there will be less journalists asking the hard questions, telling the community’s stories and simply less resources for the stories that matter in these communities.

“That makes our democracy poorer.”