Nationals MP Ken O'Dowd has written to the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about News Corp stopping print runs of The Observer.
Nationals MP Ken O'Dowd has written to the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about News Corp stopping print runs of The Observer.

’Kick in the guts’: Gladstone MP on newspaper closure

GLENN Butcher says he is gutted News Corp will cease printing The Observer and many other CQ mastheads after June 27, leaving a "void" of local news in the Gladstone region.

The Member for Gladstone labelled the announcement as "absolutely disgraceful".

"My big concern is there just won't be a local paper here in Gladstone," he said.

"With The Observer not having print, Gladstone will become a news void or a desert and that's what I am worried about.

"People want to hear - whether it's good, bad or indifferent - the stories that are going on locally.

"When mums and dads are at the park and they get their picture taken, they won't get to save that anymore ... you keep those things and you can't do that when it's on your phone."

The older generation that doesn't have access to or know how to use computers or social media is one of Mr Butcher's biggest concerns.

"My parents are in their late 70s and they look to use the print media by reading the paper every day," he said.

"They have now lost that opportunity, not only here in Gladstone, but right across Queensland and Australia. Everyone grew up with a local paper they could read and get the local stories from.

"Now a lot of these older people, who I am particularly worried about, don't have access to social media and a computer.

The cuts will also increase unemployment, Mr Butcher said.

Following the closure of Channel Seven's Gladstone office in April, Mr Butcher said the region would be left "in a news vacuum".

"We are losing half of our Observer journalists, after losing half earlier, so I'm really worried about opportunities for them and for people to get into reporting as journalists," he said.

"Now, being a regional person, it becomes more and more difficult to get a job in the industry.

Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher. Picture: Tara Croser
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher. Picture: Tara Croser

"My mantra as Minister for Regional Development is that we try and prosper industries like media and it's a real kick in the guts to reporters and other staff."

Mr Butcher said he had joined the chorus from politicians across Queensland disgusted at the announcement.

"I will be making sure I will be driving the message on behalf of all the centres in regional Queensland, not just Labor seats, but western regional areas that solely rely on print," he said.

"That's their social outing, they go and get the paper and buy a coffee at the shop, you grab the paper and have a chat with their friends.

"You can't do that when its only on a mobile phone and with the mobile reception in western districts, that's a big worry as they are in a serious desert of media coverage.

"It is all very sad."

Federal MP for Flynn Ken O'Dowd echoed Mr Butcher's comments.

"I wrote to the Minister of Communications Paul Fletcher earlier this week calling for consideration to help keep communities connected with print media," he said.

"Losing these papers will come as a shock to communities who rely on print media as they have unreliable internet or do not have regular access to internet."

Like Mr Butcher, Mr O'Dowd said he was concerned for people who won't be able access local news or don't know how to use computers.

"Making the switch to online print is not a reality for some of our older Australians who already struggle to navigate online resources," he said.

"Speaking to some of my constituents they have told me they prefer print media and do not trust what they read online."



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