Calls for reverse of community newspaper shutdown
National’s economic development and small business spokesperson Todd McClay is urging the government to reverse their ban on community papers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
He says the decision to shut down papers means many New Zealanders will be without the news they need during the lockdown.
“The decision that only paid daily newspapers can continue to publish during the lockdown is wrong.”
The New Zealand Independent Community Newspapers Association represents more than 80 independent publications around the country.
Todd says their president David Mackenzie has given assurances that members fully “accept and respect” health and safety protocols.
“These businesses have invested heavily in making changes to the way they operate. The majority of them are small publishers whose staff are now working safely and completely remotely.
Vulnerable citizens rely heavily upon community newspapers for social interaction and access to news, he says.
“This is particularly true in our smaller communities, rural areas and within New Zealand’s ethnic communities.
“Many elderly do not have easy access to internet or social media and are often not subscribed to or buy daily papers.”
People should not be forced to pay for their news because of Government restriction, he says.
Stuff reports that more than 100 community newspapers have been shut down due to the ban.
Massey University journalism lecturer Catherine Strong told Stuff the blanket ban is "shortsighted" because community newspapers are a vital cog in reliable information flow.
"Best practice in crisis communication is to use information flows that people already have and already depend on, not to try to change their news habits in the middle of a crisis."
At yesterday’s Covid-19 update, Prime Minister Jacinda Adern says the government is trying to find a way to use existing distribution that could guarantee public health measures in printing and distribution.
The old forms of distribution would not work in the current environment, she says.