Some media rely on revenue from local government paying them to publish council news and public notices.
Your rate dollars are being used to fund the media. We don’t think ratepayers and taxpayers should fund media – or any other – ventures, this masthead included.
Do you think money from your rate payments should be paid to us to publish your council’s news and public notices that are already available online? Of course not. We don’t either.
As such, VicNews will publish any Victorian Local Government news release and public notices free of any charge. The only condition is that councils and state politicians having their media releases and official public notices published should make themselves available for interviews about said media releases and, or public notices.
Victorian State Government notices will also be published free of charge. Commonwealth news and public notices, where it is deemed to be in the Victorian public interest, will also be published free of charge.
It is not up to you – our readers – to pay for our operation via council rates or taxes. It’s not up to you to fund our business model.
Imagine if every local council had to ‘prop up’ every business and provide them with money. Wouldn’t be possible. But the mainstream media have been using State and Local Government public notice print publishing as a way to (just) keep the former ‘rivers of gold’ flowing, using your money.
No media outlet should be paid to publish council information for the areas they cover. It’s in ‘the public interest’ for ratepayers of that municipality and should be reported, without requiring ratepayers’ money to do so. Without fear or favour.
Ratepayers’ money could, for example, be used to repair potholes instead of paying media to publish in print already online notices and government news.
We don’t expect others to prop up our operations. It’s up to us whether we sink or swim. We won’t use your rate payments or your taxes to tread water.
If it wasn’t for Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi advertising, the metro dailies would have ‘stopped the presses’ long ago.
We have adopted this policy for several reasons:
- When reporting on amateur ‘ham’ radio, we must do so (as a licensed amateur) “without pecuniary interest.” We can’t ask the WIA or ARRL to support our publishing of the back of other amateur’s licence/membership fees;
- The public has a right to know what government at all levels (local, state and federal) is – or is not – doing. It is a journalist’s and media’s role to investigate, interrogate, ask questions, conduct interviews and provide that information to the public to the best of our abilities;
- Taking money from any government effectively taints a reporter’s credibility. Of course, the journalist wrote a nice article about Shire Councillor Smith, as his Shire buys ads in that paper. So the journalist is told by the bosses (as I was at Leader Northcote in 1994) not to upset the advertisers, such as local government, lest they stop buying ads;
- These decisions were reached after many discussions with senior journalists who now teach journalism at La Trobe University. The advice also included advice to withdraw from voting altogether. “If you walk into a ballot box and tick the Labor box your journalism is now tainted, you’re now a Labor shill,” (and vis-a-vis). Best not to vote at all and think of them all the same;
- Once one is taking money from the government, you’re now part of ‘the machine.’ As journalists, we’re supposed to be removed from ‘the machine.’ This is not possible when that machine is paying you money to publish.
- One step removed allows for better quality journalism as no one is owed any ‘favours’.