Dozens of newspapers in regional Australia have folded since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

A review by  the Public Interest Journalism Initiative (PIJI) has found that 60 regional Australia newspapers have gone down, while an additional 41 regional newspapers have shifted to digital only.

The review also found nine newspaper mergers and 28 instances where regional papers have scaled back services.

The rate of newspaper closures has increased in the last two years, with just four papers closing in the year before COVID-19 hit Australian shores.

Federal House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts chair Anne Webster says it is a concerning trend.

“The pressure on regional newspapers has become really extensive,” she said.

“While we can all gather 'news' — I'll call it news loosely — on social media platforms … people sadly are relying on that as being fact, which isn't necessarily so,” she said.

“If there are no local newspapers then people don't get that news.

“It can make regional communities feel a little bit invisible on the world stage. And we're not invisible.

“We're vibrant and lively communities and we need to be able to share our good stories and our sad stories too.”

Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher has called for an inquiry into regional newspapers to examine their plight and chances at survival.

It has a survey open until February 11.