The media industry has been through enormous upheaval due to Covid-19, in part because it was underway before the virus. This recent SMH piece details the closures of multiple media mastheads in Australia.

The signs are grim: the closure of AAP; the continuing diminishment of local news in regional areas and the lack of a sustainable funding model for public interest journalism country-wide; and an industry-wide chilling effect due recent security legislation that has had the effect of further restricting press freedom, and the lack of a Media Freedom Act.

What’s interesting now – also discussed in the SMH piece – is whether this period will result in more (much needed) media diversity in Australia, or less.

The ACCC’s recommendation of a Code of Conduct to ensure Google and Facebook pay to include publishers’ content on their sites is expected to support revenue models.

In addition, organisations like the AJF and others’ continued advocacy for the necessary legislative changes will ensure press freedom, greater trust in media and a healthier democracy long-term.

The piece in the SMH also notes that journalists who’ve been made redundant during this period may contribute to a birth of start-up media organisations in the country, which could help Australia’s media transition into the future.

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Press freedom in the age of COVID-19

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