Abstract: Print newspapers tend to form part of the conversation on sustainable development goals in terms of the ability to communicate goals to the public, but to what degree are print newspapers part of the solution to sustainable rural and regional communities in particular? The COVID-19 pandemic coincided with a global crisis in print journalism. This article takes Australia as an extreme case study of the collapse of print news, tracing both the immediate causes as well as the scale of the decline, and the impacts in terms of community conversation, building social capital, and improving governance, particularly in sub-populations such as the aged, and in digitally disadvantaged regional and remote communities. This paper uses a range of secondary and primary data sources to build a paradoxical picture of a revival of rural and regional journalism, a revival that is focused on survival rather than revisiting the activist origins of early independent rural and regional media in the country. The new papers include part of the traditional mission of print news—building social capital—but are less engaged in creating political and financial transparency. It is concluded that the new wave of rural and regional titles may be simply at an early stage of evolution, but with the digital divide in Australia reducing, they may have little time to evolve.
Muurlink, Olav, Marx, Elizabeth V., 2023, Out of print: What the pandemic-era newspaper crisis in Australia teaches us about the role of rural and regional newspapers in creating sustainable communities, Volume:15, Electronic Article, viewed 21 February 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=42530.