Bush media vital: Martin

Much-loved television veteran Ray Martinsays regional communities could not survive without local media shining the spotlight on important issues such as the scourge of ice.

Award winning reporter Mr Martin willhost a one offPrime 7television special,Ice: The Scourge of Regional Australia,exploring the devastating impact of ice in rural and regional centres.

Mr Martin and his teamtravelled through New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South East Queensland and heard stories about the impact of ice in multiple regional centres including Ballarat, Bendigo, Dubbo and Orange.

The self-proclaimed “boy from the bush” has urgedmedia organisations to understand the value of their local papers and invest in regional communities amid a changing media market and the uncertainty of reform.

“I’m really pleasedPrime 7have done this and hopefully it’s the start of many (programs),” Mr Martin said.

“(What these programs do is) givea voice to the bush. Even though (the majority of us are)urban Australians we still relate to bush. We still think have a bit of bush in us.

“Many people retire to country towns to ‘go back to paradise’ and they realise paradise has become hell.

“The reason (to an extent) that (Donald) Trump and (Pauline) Hanson have had success is that people from outer suburbs and regional Australia often feel that no-one is listening to them.”

He said the media remained vital in giving these communities a voice and ensuring politicians were held accountable if they failed to deliver on election promises.

“As journalists we’re sort of crusaders (on important issues), early on I thought another story about ice wasn’t necessary, but when we went into the community and found it was so devastating, so widespread we thought that we need to do this to show there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said the controversial media reform wasessentialto the survival of regional media, with ownership and control across platforms now less important in the modern media age.

“People who live in regional communities understand they need to get their local news. They care more about the road that goes through their part of town. We know from anyone who lives outside the city (that often) what your council does is more important than what your Federal Government does,” he said.

Viewers and readers are not stupid, Mr Martin said. Organisations must respect their viewers by providing good content.

“Every time they put on a very good program it rates and when they put on rubbish people ‘say see you later’,” Mr Martin said.

Added competition from Channel Nine’s recentdecision to air regional bulletins and build local newsrooms in a rangeof regional cities was a win for all organisations, Mr Martin said.

Ice: The Scourge of Regional Australiawill air nationally in December.

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