Virus forces regional newspapers to close

Regional newspapers have been forced to suspend publishing, some after more than a century, because the coronavirus has wiped out local business.

In its 100th year, the Sunraysia Daily in Mildura announced on Tuesday it was suspending printing and staff have been stood down.

"It was proposed that Saturday's paper would be the last edition until further notice," the paper said in a statement.

"Staff were told the intention was for operations to eventually resume."

The closure also affects the other Elliott Newspaper Group mastheads, including Sunraysia Life, The Guardian in Swan Hill and Gannawarra Times.

In Victoria's Gippsland region, two papers have also announced they will close until further notice.

"The Great Southern Star and Yarram Standard will be closed and will not be publishing after today's (Tuesday's) edition," the papers wrote on their respective front pages.

"The Star is not the only business being affected with many others in South Gippsland wondering about their futures.

"It seems likely more businesses will be forced to close in the coming days."

The Yarram Standard has been operating for more than 140 years, since 1875.

Journalism union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said the closures were devastating for regional journalism and the community.

"Good independent local media is more important than ever," Victoria and Tasmania regional director Adam Portelli said.

"It's disappointing that this drastic step has been taken. While there's no doubt this is a difficult environment, these papers have survived Depression, drought and world wars - yet just a week of this current crisis has led them to shut their doors."

The MEAA is hoping the papers reconsider the decision to shutter, pointing to federal and state stimulus packages as potential lifelines.

Funds include the Victorian government's full payroll tax refund for the 2019-2020 financial year to small- and medium-sized businesses while the Australian government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible businesses.

"There is going to be stimulus money available to these businesses imminently and there's likely to be further stimulus after that," Mr Portelli said.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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