Friday, 24 February 2023
Country Press SA Awards
It is Rod’s and my great pleasure to join the rural press community tonight for the South Australian Country Press Awards.
It has been a privilege to visit South Australia’s regional areas and gain a better understand of the strengths, challenges and contributions of our country communities.
While in the regions, Rod and I have had the opportunity to meet regional journalists – some of whom are here tonight - and to see how passionately committed they are to telling the stories of their local audiences.
We have been struck by the multiple roles that regional journalists undertake in order to inform, celebrate, and advocate for their communities.
It is only in the regions that we see journalists with a camera slung over their shoulder, juggling a phone in one hand and a notepad in the other.
What is clear is the powerful and multifaceted role that regional journalists, and regional media, have in the towns and regions they serve.
As the Riverland faced its worst flooding in half a century – the Murray Pioneer was there to cover the story.
When the Two Wells RSL sub-branch sounded the Last Post for the final time – The Bunyip was there to cover the story.
And when McLaren Districts Football Club won the Great Southern Football League grand final to complete the league’s first unbeaten season since 1993 – the Fleurieu Sun was there to cover the story.
It is through your coverage in times of disaster, of reflection and in triumph that your communities remain connected and supported.
Whether it be Port MacDonnell, Port Augusta, or Port Lincoln, you are there, shining a light on local issues long before – and long after – they receive the attention of larger outlets.
In recent years, the importance of regional journalism both as a an essential part of our democracy and a public service has been very much to the fore.
At the same time as the need for reliable media has increased, your industry has experienced unprecedented challenges through the loss of revenue, rising costs, and changing technologies.
It has been encouraging to see regional newspapers adapt to changing technologies and embrace new operating models, whilst recognising too that this process has brought challenge and change to local media.
In the face of these challenges, thank you for providing a platform for regional identities, issues and voices.
I thank Country Press South Australia for supporting the interests of regional media in our state for over 110 years.
Awards such as these are vital in encouraging and fostering the delivery of reliable news and advertising services across South Australia.
Congratulations to each of the nominees on their professionalism over what has been a particularly newsworthy past 12 months.
Each of you here tonight should be proud of your service to your industry, your regions, and your state.
Thank you for being the eyes, the ears, and the voice of your communities.