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WHILE traditional newspapers are going the way of the dodo and social media like Facebook and Twitter are clustering into political echo chambers, a new form of news and views is suddenly on the rise.
Actually, it’s a very old form but in bright new clothes. And you are reading these words in a fairly typical example. “CityNews” is part of a new wave that really does believe the old journalistic maxim that “all news is local”.
Indeed, the legendary American investor, Warren Buffett, has bought up hundreds of local papers across the US. They are delivering the news in various combinations of hard copy and on-line systems and making a workable profit in the process.
Slowly but surely, Australia is getting the message. And one of the brightest new riders of the wave has recently been established in Canberra’s coastal playground – the “Beagle Weekly”.
It is owned and run by Tuross identity, Lei Parker, and as an exclusively on-line operation its readership leapt from an initial 7000 to more than 10,000 in only three issues. And the trend continues.
Eight years ago Parker established the “Tuross Giant” that concentrated on that one small area of the Eurobodalla Shire and gained a loyal following of 2500. The experience allowed him to establish the systems and programs needed to expand his operation across the shire from Durras to Tilba Tilba, incorporating Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma and Tuross. This gave access to 40,000 permanent residents – many of them retired Canberrans – and triple that figure during the holiday season.
“The community is news hungry,” he says. “They want it available 24/7 irrespective of whether they are at home or abroad; and they want it for free.
“An online news provider can also access detailed data on the popularity of news items. This information directly helps in establishing the audience demand and assists in improving presentation and advertising.
“The ‘Beagle Weekly’ is just one example of where regional newspapers might be in the future.”
“CityNews” can also be enjoyed for free in weekly hard copy and digital formats, and is complemented by a pro-active website that also offers daily bulletins and story-by-story alerts (at citynews.com.au). Robert Macklin’s weekly “CityNews” column also appears in the “Beagle Weekly”.