In light of Fairfax’s and News Limited job cuts and restructuring, the fate of foreign media in Australia is looking towards a similar bleak future.
As the downward trend for print media continues, there is a lot at stake if ethnic media doesn’t move to other more profitable platforms.
Neos Kosmos managing director, Christopher Gogos is very accepting of the online route ethnic media is taking.
“We’ve put a lot more resources into our online content. It’s now possibly a bigger audience than our print editions. The next stage for us is to look at other online mediums.”
Neos Kosmos is one of the few Australian foreign media who has expanded to social networks like twitter and facebook.
There is new hope for more exposure and subscriptions with mobile platforms and tablet applications.
Tony Kazzi, the editor of El Telegraph, the largest Lebanese and Arab tri-weekly newspaper in Australia feels there is a bleak future for all ethnic media if they don’t adapt.
Even though the paper has increased by 11 per cent over two years with the introduction of online content and a daily newspaper, the editor doesn’t see the paper having a safe future.
“There is no immigration now. The immigration has stopped. When the people who read us get old after 10 years, I think we will have a disastrous future,” Kazzi says.
With a lack of funding from the government in recent years, the fate of commercial ethnic media seems to rely on its diminishing niche audience.
With more than one in five Australians citizens now from an ethnic background it would seem the target audience should be increasing.
Sadly for foreign language newspapers, the migrants who have the language skills to read journalistic writing are ageing.
Kostas Nikolopoulos, deputy editor of Neos Kosmos is realistic about future growth. “There is no renewal of the population, hence our market doesn’t grow bigger”, he says.
He mentions that for the first time there are more second and third generation Greek Australians than Greek born Australians.
With second and third generation Australians preferring to get their international media from other sources like the internet and more global news networks, the audience for local ethnic media is not renewing.
Like mainstream media, restructuring and new additions will chase a bigger market and will provide much needed revenue.
Shifting to online has many foreign media outlets in Australia reach community members directly and raise more revenue via advertising.
Surak Doungruapana, editor for Thai Oz, the first Thai newspaper in Australia has seen more than 500 hits a day on his website in addition to a wide circulation.
He says the paper still rests on their newspaper work but “now includes more on the website”.
Without finding a successful way to monetise online content, both mainstream and ethnic media might be looking towards introducing online subscriptions.
Fairfax is set to introduce subscriber only content on their website, and News Limited papers have already introduced paid subscriptions.
For ethnic media, the options could vary. As many online hits come from overseas users, papers could introduce paid entry for overseas users.
For Paola Rossetti, the editorial assistant for Italian newspaper Il Globo, sees the future of the paper directly linked to the community’s changing interests. “It depends a lot on how the community will evolve,” she says.
Staying ahead of consumer demand is a tough job when funding from the government is lacking.
Two years ago the then Labour State government promised ethnic media $1 million funding if re-elected. That never happened and the funds never reached impoverished media groups.
The purpose of ethnic media might have changed over the years – from a reliable source of the happenings in a newcomer’s home country to a comprehensive snapshot of the ethnic community’s issues – but its importance has not.
Ms Rossetti believes there is much to be loved about ethnic media.
“As long as we cherish the view of Australia as a multicultural society, then I think that in that context the ethnic media has a very important role to play,” she says.
As advocates for different communities in Australia, ethnic media is an integral part of our multicultural landscape.