Sunday, 26 September 2021

25th Annual Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, awards & commendations in September 2021

Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah:

Winning entries in the 2021 Les Peterkin Portrait Prize.

The Les Peterkin Portrait Prize (LPPP) is a collaborative project of Tyalgum Public School and the Tweed Regional Gallery, coordinated by Marianne Galluzzo. The LPPP is generously sponsored by the Tyalgum P&C Association, Friends of Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc., School Arts Supplies, Derivan and Bunnings South Tweed.

(11-13 years)
M.B., Colours of Me
Uki Public School

(8-10 years)
A.T., Hoodie Boy
St. Anthony's Primary School, Kingscliff

(5-7 years)
M.B., This is Me
Murwillumbah East Public School

(one of 10 presented)
K.S., Inner Dreaming
Centaur Public School, Banora Point

To see all the entries which received an award or commendation go to: 

"Well done!" to every young artist who participated. 

Clarence Catchment Alliance: The Clarence River and the significance of its important habitats

Friday, 24 September 2021

All five NE NSW Nationals, Liberal, Labor & Greens MPs ask Premier Berejiklian and Deputy-Premier Barilaro to adjust COVID-19 public health order by restricting non-essential travel to the region until it too reaches the 70% fully vaccinated target


23 September 2021



The five NSW MPs representing the Northern Rivers have joined forces to ask the NSW Government to protect the region from a predicted influx of city "70 percenters" when Sydney reaches the Government's double vaccination target before the regions.

The Nationals' Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Geoff Provest (Tweed) and Ben Franklin MLC as well as Labor's Janelle Saffin (Lismore) and the Greens Tamara Smith (Ballina) have for the first time ever jointly written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Deputy, Nationals Leader John Barilaro.

"We are really concerned that, without policy changes, our region will suddenly become deeply vulnerable to a major influx of newly freed Sydneysiders, while we are still short of the 70 per cent safety target," the MPs write.

"This apprehension is shared by locally based medical professionals we have consulted as well as the broader community.

"We cross party MPs recognise that we are all in this together.

We therefore ask you to adjust public health orders to prevent this happening, by restricting non-essential travel to the North Coast until it too has reached the milestone."

The MPs describe their request as a "good health policy" which would give city dwellers a chance to say thank you to the regions for their support during Sydney's darkest hours over the winter by redirecting some of their vaccine supply to HSC students.

As Australia is now less than 3 months away from entering Year Three of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic and is expecting the announcement of a federal general election in the first quarter of 2022 (if not earlier) here is a brief look at how & where the general public obtains its political, social & health information


All information comes to an individual from eight main sources: family & friendship groups or teachers; professionals personally consulted on specific issues; government advertising, television news & public affairs programs; radio news & commentary; print newspapers; digital news websites; social media platforms & Internet search engines. 

Every source relays this information through a filter - either of personal experience or level of understanding, commercial interests of proprietors, editorial guidelines or content space constraints, potential legal consequences, the interests of a lobby group and sometimes of political allegiances or government policy aims.

Increasingly in the straightened economic times of the last four years, mainstream media appeared to heavily rely on government & industry media releases (often accompanied by digital-ready posed images) as a 'no cost' news item, which is published verbatim without source attribution. While salient points uncovered during exchanges with journalists during interviews and press conferences don't always escape the red pencil of an editor.

The political climate has in recent years also become less tolerant of investigative journalism, with threats of legal action, police raids on journalists' work places or homes becoming an issue to be considered and their social media presence often being constantly monitored. A number of bloggers, vloggers, tweeters and even chatroom posters have also been subjected to similar treatment. All of which appears to be aimed at silencing unwelcome critique of or comment on governments of the day and their cabinet ministers or on specific industries. In my opinion a chilling effect now exists. 


So let's take a brief look at the Australian media landscape in 2021......

Australian Government, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Media Interests Snapshot, 26 July 2021: 

ABC News, 14 April 2021, excerpt:

What does Rupert Murdoch own?

Mr Murdoch's portfolio of Australian news media brands stretches from print, radio and pay television to online news, including:

  • Print and Online: roughly 100 physical and digital newspaper mastheads in Australia (at the start of 2021), along with the news website

  • Television: 24-hour news service Sky News Australia.

  • Radio: a minority shareholding in Here, There & Everywhere, formerly APN News & Media.

  • These investments fall under the banner of News Corp Australia, whose ultimate owner is the US-based News Corporation, of which Mr Murdoch is executive chairman.

  • The Murdoch Family Trust controls around 40 per cent of the parent company's voting shares (and a smaller proportion of the total shares on issue).

....On social media, however, Sky has an outsized audience. In the second half of 2020, its Facebook posts were shared more often than any of the 65 accounts analysed by Fact Check, while placed third, behind Daily Mail. On YouTube, its subscriber base far exceeds that of Channel 7 and Channel 9 and by March 2021 had surpassed ABC News, while its videos receive millions more views per month.

In May 2020 News Corp announced that 112 of its local and regional print newspapers would go digital or disappear entirely. Some of the est. 76 which went digital have since been reduced to a page on one of the main masthead's website. At the end of September 2021 it will stop distribution of its print news papers to regional Queensland and there are a growing number rural and regional areas across Australia which now have no local, state or national print newspapers available to the community at large.

The Australian Press Council has not published an annual report since 2018-19. In that financial year it received 758 in-scope and 183 out-of-scope complaints from 2,004 complainants, compared to the previous period’s 554 in-scope complaints and 158 out-of scope complaints from 959 complainants.

That 2018-19 total of 758 in-scope complaints was a sharp increase on the preceding four financial years.

According to that annual report an est. 621 of the 758 complaints considered by the Press Council to fall within its remit were partially or fully upheld and 18 underwent formal adjudication.

The Australian Press Council Inc. which is funded by the Australian media industry has no legislated ability to impose penalties for serious breaches of journalism or community standards on any of its 22 media organisation & independent journalist members.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2021, excerpt:

New figures from industry group ThinkTV, audited by KPMG, report that industry-wide TV revenue – which includes metropolitan broadcasters, regional broadcasters and pay TV company Foxtel – grew 12 per cent in the 2021 financial year to $3.9 billion. 

Metropolitan television revenue, a key figure and the biggest earner for Seven, Nine and Ten, grew 11.5 per cent to $2.6 billion. The return to growth comes after revenue fell drastically across the television industry in the 2020 financial year as advertisers slashed spending in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the 2021 industry figures represent a rebound, they are still below the levels achieved in 2019. 

Seven’s revenue figures were impacted by the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, the network is betting that record-breaking ratings for that event will translate into higher viewership for programs such as The Voice (which it took from Nine last year) and Big Brother. It is also expected to generate a large amount of revenue in the new financial year from the most recent event, as well as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

Television advertising is still the biggest driver of revenue for Seven, which also operates a production business and the West Australian Newspapers publishing operation. The revenue share figures imply Seven made about $917 million from television advertising last year. Nine made about $1 billion while Network Ten pulled in approximately $671 million, boosted by growth in market share in the second half. 

Nine, which will report its financial results on August 25, makes most of its money from television advertising but also owns radio, publishing and real-estate assets, and subscription streaming service Stan. Its revenue was boosted in the last financial year by programs including Married at First Sight and Legomasters and key sporting events such as the State of Origin. Ten, known for programs such as Australian Survivor and The Bachelor, made all of its money last year from advertising. 

 Advertising on online services, such as 7Plus, 9Now, 10Play and Kayo Sports, increased substantially in the same period, up 63.4 per cent to $278.2 million, according to ThinkTV. The growth in revenue from digital services is considered critical by media investors and executives as audiences migrate to consuming video online. Seven, which runs 7Plus, is expected to announce it made about $93 million from its online streaming service last financial year, compared to about $118 million for Nine’s platform, 9Now. Network Ten’s online service, 10Play, made about $40 million, according to industry sources who spoke anonymously......

Seven said in June it expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between $250 million and $255 million for the full-year ending June 30. 

Australian Government, ACMANews in Australia: diversity and localism - News measurement framework, December 2020, excerpt:

News on social media is unlike other mediums. Designed to keep users engaged and on the platform, embedded algorithms on these sites rank and select news content for users based on their social circles, interests, likes and dislikes. While this arguably has positive benefits in exposing users to a greater number and variety of news sources, it also raises concerns that passive users of these platforms could become caught in socalled ‘filter bubbles’ or ’echo chambers’ of like-minded people with a similar set of viewpoints or opinions, despite having access to a wider range of news content.

Another concern about the consumption of news on digital platforms relates to the rise of ‘clickbait’ journalism and deluge of easily sharable sensationalised or ‘fake news’ stories. These are stories designed to elicit an emotional response and be accepted without critical examination. This has led to declining levels of trust in news content posted on digital platforms and higher levels of news avoidance. These behaviours highlight some of the contradictions and complexities of examining media diversity in the digital age and the need to better understand news consumption behaviours, including the influence of social media and news aggregators.

The majority of print newspapers, their associated websites and a good number of their journalist have a presence across the main social media platforms accessible in Australia.

APO: Analysis & Policy Observatory on the subject of University of Canberra News and Media Research Centre’s Digital news report: Australia 2021, 23 June 2021:

The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for credible and fast news. In the early days, news consumption increased as the public tried to make sense of the rapidly evolving crisis. Despite the surge in demand, news organisations experienced a substantial hit to revenues, which led to the closure or suspension of many local newspapers across Australia. The pandemic has accelerated the industry’s decades-long struggle to replace falling advertising income.

The global data show there is no consistent pattern in COVID-19’s impact on news consumers. In Australia, 57% say their lives have been impacted by the pandemic, the lowest out of the 46 countries surveyed.

However, this year’s report reveals the rapid increase in news consumption by Australians at the start of the pandemic has not been maintained. The proportion of people paying for it has not increased, and interest in news has declined since 2020.

The report also finds that Australians have become more trusting of news in general but concern about misinformation remains high. However, many Australians lack adequate levels of media literacy to identify it and are unaware of the financial difficulty facing the news industry.

Key findings:

  • Trust in news increased globally over the past 12 months. In Australia, trust in news has risen (+5) to 43%, close to the global average (44%).

  • Australians’ interest in news dropped during the pandemic in line with other countries. Interest in the news has been consistently declining among Australian audiences.

  • General concern about false and misleading information online in Australia is high (64%), and much higher than the global average (56%).

  • Women, younger generations and those with low income are less likely to see themselves or their views as being fairly or sufficiently reflected in the news.

  • The majority of Australians (66%) are either unaware that commercial news organisations are less profitable than they were 10 years ago, or they don’t know about the current financial state of the news media.

Full report can be downloaded at:

This report is part of a long running international survey coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, an international research centre in the comparative study of journalism based at the University of Oxford. The Digital News Report delivers comparative data on media usage in 46 countries and across 6 continents.

The News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra is the Australian partner institute and author of the Digital News Report: Australia. This is the seventh annual Digital News Report: Australia.

Cite the report as: Park, S., Fisher, C., McGuinness, K., Lee, J.Y. & McCallum, K. (2021). Digital News Report: Australia 2021. Canberra: News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra.