Media company ACM has urged audiences and advertisers to support local newspapers as dozens of regional papers resume printing this week after production was temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Key ACM titles will be back in circulation in towns in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland as part of a phased return to print publishing.
The resumption comes as ACM, the owner of this website, was notified that it is eligible for a grant under the federal government's $50 million Public Interest News Gathering program.
ACM chief executive Allen Williams urged communities to support local papers by buying a printed copy, signing up as a digital subscriber or booking an advertisement.
"We are showing our commitment to regional media and the important role our local newspapers play in keeping their areas informed, however as we've seen with recent closures by other publishers these titles need support to prosper," Mr Williams said.
"We're certainly grateful for the many supportive messages ACM's trusted mastheads have received from loyal readers, customers and community leaders who say they have missed the local newspaper.
"Now we need those communities to rally around the local paper and our dedicated journalists and advertising sales staff so these titles can return to sustainably serving regional readers and advertisers."
Due to the economic impact of government COVID-19 control measures, ACM announced in mid-April that it was facing stoppages in work beyond its control, and as a result the production of a number of non-daily newspapers would be suspended and employees associated with print sites and products stood down.
Many other non-daily titles continued to publish and ACM's 14 daily papers, such as The Canberra Times and Newcastle Herald, and agricultural journals, such as The Land and Queensland Country Life, were not affected.
Non-daily mastheads such as the Goulburn Post, Wimmera Mail-Times, Maitland Mercury, Southern Highland News, North West Star, The Area News, Armidale Express and Port Macquarie News continued to cover local news online and attract new digital subscribers while printed editions halted.
They are among the dozens of titles resuming newspaper production in coming days.
Back in print today, the Goulburn Post, Southern Highland News, The Area News, Wimmera Mail Times and Port Macquarie News use their front pages to thank their community and urge audiences and advertisers to support local news by buying a copy of the paper, subscribing online or booking an advertisement.
ACM Chief Marketing Officer Paul Tyrrell said the publications returning in print would ensure the important messages of national as well as local advertisers could once again reach ACM's highly engaged audiences in major regional population centres.
"As local, regional and national businesses get back to business and continue their recovery, key ACM publications will be there alongside them, ready to help connect them with our audiences across print and digital platforms," Mr Tyrrell said.
According to the latest EMMA (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) readership figures, ACM recorded a combined network audience of 8.4 million readers across digital and print for the month of March, up 35 per cent year on year.
Mr Williams said ACM would "continue to review our ability to return other suspended titles subject to advertising recovery".
He welcomed federal government relief measures such as JobKeeper.
"We will continue to work constructively with the government and its agencies, " Mr Williams said.
"We're particularly grateful to the Judith Neilson Institute for its initiatives to support journalism, including journalism projects to serve ACM's audiences in regional areas."