Newspaper Nine Queensland
(Image: Unsplash/Bank Phrom)

News Corp’s decision to “suspend” (expect “cease”) publication of 60 suburban titles has sent a shivering premonition of mortality through Australia’s media. It’s prompting calls for bailouts from usual critics of rent-seeking, amid finger pointing at the usual villains in Facebook and Google.

But throwing money into the gurgling drain of print media is not the answer. Bailouts? Sure. But for local journalism that serves the community, not dying business models. These closures were coming. The advertising collapse has made it sooner, rather than later.

The COVID-19 pandemic is turbo-charging two pre-existing trends: it’s encouraging a flight to quality journalism (that’s the good news!) and it’s collapsing advertising in media (that’s the bad!).