Statement from Joe Kelly MP: South East Advertiser
One of the things I get asked about most as a politician is how I feel about the media. It is often thought, as a politician that I would be happy if there was no such thing as independent press.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Independent media, the fourth estate, is a critical part of a functioning democracy. It is also a critical part of the fabric of our local communities.
The South-East Advertiser is our local newspaper here in Greenslopes electorate and it is never scared to hold those in authority to account. It has over many years questioned and challenged the decisions and policies of the current and former Governments. It has provided a voice for the many groups in our community. It has shared the good news and success of our people, and offered comfort, support and information in times of need.
In the past few weeks alone, it has shown again and again its valuable role. It has supported our community whether it is rallying to support those affected by bushfires or reporting on those directly affected by COVID-19. It has shared information on the issues that have mattered most to residents in our Local Government elections.
It is now, in many cases easier to get information about what is happening on the other side of the world, than it is to read about what is happening in our own backyard. We should not accept that as an outcome and must guard against.
The media, as they say provide the first rough draft of history. I know that I want the draft to include the stories of our community.
So imagine my sadness when I learned that the media outlet I have turned to for quarter of a century living this community is now closing its door. The Coronavirus being another blow to our struggling local media outlet, already struggling in the face of digital disruption, declining advertising revenue and other global trends wrecking sources of quality journalism large and small.
Whether it is letting me know about our local sports stars, outstanding local students, great community volunteers, fantastic small businesses that are having a go or a local take on global issues that matter to our community, it is a trusted source of high quality, professional journalism.
People often pose the question “Joe are you worried about the front page of the Courier-Mail or this week’s 4-Corners”. Truthfully, these are important but a story on the front page of the South-East Advertiser creates more work for me than these major media outlets and when the South-East Advertiser speaks, I listen. A sentiment that every politician from former PM Kevin Rudd to current Deputy Mayor Krista Adams will no doubt agree with.
Like all people who have been the subject of media scrutiny, at times, I have felt aggrieved, hard done by and misrepresented, however, when I step back, I’ve also realized that it has given me a time to reflect, look at issues from another point of view and change my perspective, sometimes changing my thoughts and actions. Realistically, that scrutiny, as painful as it is on occasion, hopefully helps me to be a better servant of this community.
I hope the South-East Advertiser is just on hold rather than closed for good because as much as ever, our community needs quality, professional journalism. Our current journalist and editor has always exhibited the highest degree of professionalism and his predecessors have always done the same.
It will be a real loss to our community if we don’t have high quality professional journalists keeping our communities informed, holding public office holders, local businesses and community groups to account and reporting on the stories that matter to our community.