What News Corp purchasing us means for you

DID you notice the difference when you picked up the paper this morning or clicked on the website?

This newspaper is on the way to having a new owner, because APN News and Media has agreed to sell its 12 daily papers and more than 60 non-daily newspapers in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

News Corp, providing it gets competition watchdog approval, has bought us for a bit more than $36 million.

For the reader, this change will mean nothing - particularly in the short term.

There will be some upside in the medium term because as a world player, News has access to a far wider range of writers, photographs and content options than a regional entity such as Australian Regional Media.

If readers get access to those people in real time, it can only make our offering more robust.

And make no mistake, anyone who bought this company was doing so because of its history, its community ties - and its money-making potential.

We have more journalists, and some damn good ones at that, than any other media organisation in town, and that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

Selling to News also has to help the longevity of print. They do the same thing we do - provide compelling newspapers and websites to local communities.

Doing things on a larger scale has to mean you do it more efficiently.

News knows intimately the point of difference in a town such as ours is that things that happen here get reported here first.

Our front counter staff know our customers like friends. If we are to continue to prosper it has to remain that way.

APN wants to focus on its radio stations and outdoor advertising business. Fair enough.

As CEO Neil Monaghan told staff yesterday: "It's much better to be working for someone who wants to own you than someone who wants to sell you.''

Let's hope the regulators see it the same way.

All around the world, and particularly in Australasia right now, big media entities are merging to make sure they are stable enough to take the fight to new media.

Regional readers should be assured this move helps secure local newsrooms. And that has to be the most important thing to us all.

*Bryce Johns is the editorial director of Australian Regional Media. bryce.johns@apn.com.au

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