25 years of ‘CityNews’ / Hearts that beat behind the news

“CityNews” editor and owner IAN MEIKLE reflects on the paper’s silver anniversary

TRADITIONALLY, when newspapers celebrate big moments in their own history, they ask a political leader for a congratulatory few paragraphs of blah blah. Given our chief minister’s view about journalists and traditional media, we didn’t trouble him.

Ian Meikle.

Notching up a quarter of a century, especially the past quarter century, in media is no mean feat.

“CityNews” has borne witness to most of the territory’s period of self government, regaled the national sporting victories of our local teams, snapped the city’s beautiful people at parties, balls and first nights, reported the news, profiled achievers and characters, covered all manner of arts and artistic endeavour and provided insightful, authoritative commentary from some of Canberra’s most informed and brightest minds. Not to mention the informative gardening page, before Cedric Bryant growls at me.

Quite a history and quite a weekly package that lands into our thousands and thousands of readers’ hands absolutely free. Not a bad effort for 25 years.

But to get into that basket or coffee shop takes enormous dedication and, in these digital times, determination.

Advertising is the lifeblood of our paper. It pays the wages, the overheads, the printing and the distribution. But there is a nobler role: through a decision to advertise, businesses keep an active and independent community voice alive and heard in Canberra.

I dips me lid to them, all of them, large and small for their faith in our paper’s being able to effectively deliver their messages, their advertising “news” as it were, to our large, affluent, educated and motivated readership.

Advertising, like editorial, doesn’t come out of thin air. It is hard fought for in a competitive market with lots of distractions and bent truth.

Our sales team acts always with integrity and our customers’ best interests uppermost. Setting that rare gold standard is our CEO Greg Jones who is, by a country mile, the most experienced print advertising executive in the ACT. He understands the power of our paper and appreciates deeply its importance in the community.

He is utterly committed, as I am, to producing the highest-quality publication every week. Be it the advertising, the reproduction or the distribution, Greg keeps an eagle-eye on ensuring our standards don’t slip.

Contributing to that high standard are the unsung printers of Spotpress, who expertly produce our magazine every Tuesday night in suburban Sydney and faithfully have it back to us for distribution across Canberra by Wednesday morning.

No standing still

BUT you can’t stand still in the media business and, like other leading publishers, “CityNews” is in a constant state of evolution.

Eight years ago we created the news site citynews.com.au and since then it has grown to command a large audience of readers keen to keep up with the daily twists and turns of local news.

The website has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where we also enjoy loyal and large followings.

Three years ago we built a fond relationship with Canberra’s principal commercial talk radio station 2CC and each week we share two hours of news and views on the “CityNews Sunday Roast” program from 10am.

I have edited “The Advertiser” in Adelaide, “The Australian” in Sydney and run “The Canberra Times” for nearly a decade. And yet it wasn’t until I took up the ownership of “CityNews”, partially in 2005 and fully two years later, that I properly felt connected to a community.

Over this period I have been proud to start the careers of some bedazzling young, local journalists who have always gone on to bigger, better things, confident I hope that they take with them the virtues of honest, balanced and fair reporting.

Beleaguered start

THE paper’s early history was a beleaguered one. It began being printed on newsprint as a tabloid and chopped and changed its publishing frequency, including at one time being a monthly paper. The move to glossy paper wasn’t until the early 2000s.

Despite our not having the best of working relationships, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the paper’s founder, Michael Hawke. He came from a sales background and used all his guile and charm to keep the paper afloat where lesser men would have crumbled.

So, the “CityNews” you hold in your hands today is the product of the skills and dedication of forgotten and remembered true believers; believers in print, in news, arts, opinion and truth. And the gardening column, of course.

A few years ago I coined a tagline to our masthead that says “Well written, well read”. Despite the chief minister’s misgivings, in our 25th anniversary year, I reckon we can confidently add “well regarded”.

 

3 Responses to “25 years of ‘CityNews’ / Hearts that beat behind the news”