I had a birthday recently. No, I didn't get a letter from the queen - she'll be sending herself a letter soon - however, I did get an email from television personality Ray Martin.
I'm not name dropping here; in fact, as I was saying to Kylie Minogue just the other day: "If there is one thing I hate Kylie, it's name droppers!"
Admittedly, Ray's email seemed a generic - and it was possibly sent to others as well - but it addressed one of the most concerning issues we in regional Australia are going to be facing increasingly over the next few years. Something made more concerning by the fact most rural Australians still do not seem to recognise its danger.
Ray Martin is urging rural Australians to contact their federal member and ask what they are doing to ensure the survival of local journalism.
We're not speaking here of something that might happen, but rather a tidal wave that has already begun.
Already this year we've seen 76 community and regional newspapers become digital only and another 36 cease publication all together - all in a year when rural communities, and especially the elderly, have been in great need of local intel.
I am not denying the crucial need for the major media outlets, especially during a global pandemic like COVID-19.
Clearly, a growing number of people are more interested in national and global news that might be free compared to the local newspaper we have to pay for.
Unfortunately, we are forgetting to our peril one of the first, and definitely the most important, rules of economics: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
Consider New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's return to power over the weekend.
Her Labour Party has become the first party capable of governing alone since the New Zealand electoral system changed in 1996, recording the biggest victory for Labour in more than 50 years.
Why was Ardern so successful? Is she the best PM in 50 years? Or, could it be that our neighbours across the ditch are less informed than they have been?
No, of course not. That is impossible; especially now in the information age ... right? In the information age it may be a paradox, but is it impossible?
Somebody steals a ladder from a house three streets from you. You don't hear about it because the local newspaper is small now and you're too busy following the famous, or protests and murders in the US ... because a murder is more important than someone stealing a ladder.
Or is it? Even the worst criminals start small. Today, it's a ladder. A year from now, it might be a house break-in. Three years from now, it could be an assault. Ten years from now it might be a murder. You will hear about the murder in 10 years' time, of course. When it is too late.
This week, Australian journalist Greg Sheridan has been lambasted by both New Zealand and Australian media, perhaps for pointing out the uncomfortable facts and not adhering to the narrative of the mainstream.
Sheridan pointed out that before COVID-19, Ardern was trailing in the polls and not delivering on election promises.
Of 100,000 affordable homes promised, only 600 were built; homelessness was to be eradicated, yet it increased; carbon emissions were set to be zero by 2050, but emissions went up; she was to reduce child poverty, it went up.
A light rail project from Auckland's airport to the CBD was abandoned. Perhaps the worst part for regional New Zealanders was that a regional public service emphasis never materialised.
So, why didn't regional media let the rest know that the promised progress hadn't been forthcoming? Because many community and weekly papers in New Zealand were closed during COVID shutdowns.
Visit saveourvoices.com.au and help my old mate Ray.