Who is left to sniff the lampposts of Noosa?

Celebrated journalist H.L. Mencken once said: “Journalism is to politician as dog is to lamppost.” 

More of that later. But first, full disclosure: for thirty-odd years I worked for traditional media – i.e. newspapers. I left the industry fifteen years ago when there was a lemming-like rush by news organisations to upload stories and pictures online for free. Advertising revenue would quickly shift from newsprint to news site. The transition from print to digital would be seamless and successful. Or so they said.

None of that happened. Instead, readers stopped buying the (previously profitable) newspaper, circulation revenue dropped which led to advertisers demanding cheaper rates. Newspapers then cut costs, employed fewer journos, and printed fewer pages daily. The result: quality plummeted, profits dived. Paywalls were finally erected while print editions were killed.  

What has all that got to do with Noosa? We used to be served by two free newspapers, one of them a bi-weekly, plus a daily out of Maroochydore. Today, only one remains in print form. I do not wish to criticize the latter unduly, but let’s just say it is not the sort of watchdog that Mencken had in mind. 

The result is that Noosa Council, once held to account by dogged (excuse the pun) journalists for decades, has enjoyed less scrutiny in recent years. That is problematic at a time when many residents feel we are reaching a crossroads. A turning point when one crazy decision – like newspapers giving away content free – could mark the beginning of the end of the laid-back, life-affirming Noosa we’ve known and loved. 

What is certain is that our home is under greater threat than ever. We know the causes. Opportunistic developers. Too many day-trippers. Choking traffic congestion. Mounting pressure to build higher. Short-term accommodation on the rise. To name but a few.

With a million-plus increase slated for the SEQ population in the next twenty years and the Olympics arriving in 2032, it can only get worse. We will need our elected officials to hold the line as never before. A council concession here, a dodgy planning decision there and we could end up just another Surfer’s. 

But who will hold Council to account? In my time, newspapers, for all their faults, were regulated and legally accountable. They were staffed by trained journalists who, in the main, wanted to keep society on the right track while keeping the bastards (ie politicians) honest. 

Nowadays, I see fewer experienced reporters holding the toes of politicians, police and profiteers to the fire. I see less investment in investigative work, resulting in more opportunities for crime and corruption. I see people under fifty getting their main news fix from social media, much of it from untrained and unrestrained bloggers, vloggers and floggers who spin their own version of the ‘truth’. And don’t get me started on so-called ‘influencers’!

That’s why the arrival of Noosa Matters is so timely, with on-point opinions and analysis from some of those same local journalists I mentioned earlier, experienced community activists and former custodians of the Shire’s interests (including an ex Mayor or two)… people well placed to comment on the current and future state of play in this little piece of paradise. To sniff the lampposts.

As a former journalist who has lived in Noosa for nineteen years and was actively involved in the ‘Free Noosa’ campaign, I hope to join them in ensuring that potential decisions that could lead to a disastrous wrong turn do not go unchallenged. Watch this space.


This Post Has 5 Comments

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    Hi Terry, I’m a latecomer to Noosa Matters, I care about the underneath rotting fabric Noosa is becoming. Environmental issues are ignored (which sadly attracted the moguls) while tourism, big business issues are applauded. As are our professional cyclists vs living koalas. The big boyz are in town or is that the WSB? Then again what did we expect from a Mayor who was formerly a solicitor, nothing against good solicitors – I know them. The difference is they’re still running their practices. What I don’t get is how some unknown ends up a mayor without being a councillor first? A bit like Mark Jamieson, where did he come from? It’s like they’re pulled for a purpose from thin air.
    I question why the Noosa Council icon has been re-invented? Was it really? Looks the same to me. So I checked it out. As in the early 1990’s Council put out a tender to design its new logo. My designer offered his icon and lost. How come I saw no council tender for this job, did I miss something?

  2. Avatar

    Good on you Terry …Totally agree .
    We ..the ones who cherish Noosa, & for what others have fought for so tirelessly over the decades, need to band together and defend it from the small group whom wish to exploit it for their own benefit.

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    Good one Terry. As a former long term journo and regional newspaper editor (three mastheads including a regional daily), and Noosa resident now for 10 years, I have to agree with your main points about the decline of the Fourth Estate. It’s not just Noosa though, it’s endemic but we locals see the effects at grass roots level. Keep ruffling the feathers….

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      Many thanks, John. Those feathers already seem to be ruffled … Noosa Today just ran a full page rubbishing my comments. Go figure.

  4. Avatar

    Totally agree Terry. The fear of being found out (or FOFO as it’s probably being called) is a marvellous restraining tool. Thanks for bringing Noosa Matters to my attention.

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