The Mountains risks getting its news from the “bedlam of social media” if planned staff cuts at the Gazette go ahead, according to Ward 1 councillor, Don McGregor.
Councillor Don McGregor.
The councillors debated Fairfax Media’s proposed cuts and its plan to add the Penrith Gazette to the BMG’s responsibilities at the council meeting last week. They unanimously passed a resolution to write to Australian Community Media director, John Angilley, expressing their concerns.
The resolution noted that “mooted changes include a reduction in staff and a possible consequence for local news content when this is coupled with the fact that the smaller team will be expected to put out two newspapers”.
It called the Blue Mountains Gazette “an important part of our community”, a sentiment repeated by several letter writers, who also voiced concerns that a valuable source of information would be threatened (see page 11).
The mayor, Mark Greenhill, called the proposal “unacceptable”.
“The Gazette has for many years been part of the fabric of our community. It is in many respects the face of our community. It is one of the most widely read local papers in the state,” he said.
“Cost isn’t everything and I think Fairfax needs to look beyond the mere dollar. At the end of the day, the local media plays an important role in local communities. I remember those staff during the bushfires, sleeping in the office … constantly keeping the community informed.
“Contrast Fairfax head office and you couldn’t have a bigger schism in my view.”
Clr McGregor said the Gazette played an “important role” in delivering news to the community. “And if you don’t have that you’ll have the bedlam of social media delivering news, and our community and I certainly don’t want that.”
Clr Brendan Luchetti said he would “join the fight” to maintain the current staffing levels at the Gazette.
“I have seen some very ordinary local papers that are nothing more than press releases and classifieds. If we let the bean counters in the ivory towers of Fairfax have their way, that is what we will get.
“It’s a sad sign of our times that we continue to run into economic rationalism and communities take the hit. The valuable assets to our community are being eroded. We need to stand up and tell Fairfax this is a rubbish decision.”
Clr Romola Hollywood said with fewer staff, so-called “news” in the paper would become “media releases just copied and pasted. It really worries me what this means for our community.”
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