IT was a death notice stuck on a building in town that convinced Jasmin Jones that Yass needed a newspaper after the “Yass Tribune” recently deserted print for a digital-only presence.
“We needed a place to put our stories and capture moments of births, deaths and marriages,” says Jasmin, the “Yass Valley Times” co-founder and editor. Jasmin, 45, of Yass, teamed up with journalist Nyssa Stadtmiller, 33, of Harden, and together, they’ve already published more than three weekly papers.
“We’ve made it past the first edition fear [and] found our groove,” she says.
“Like any new business, when you enter the field it’s like a formula one race. Everyone has their cars but you’ve got to build your own and you have four screws left but you’re going to race anyway.”
It’s been a long time coming for Jasmin, who watched the “Yass Tribune” continue to decrease in size and local news, and kept thinking: “I could start a local paper” but every time she thought about it, she always had a baby on her shoulder.
“The ‘Yass Tribune’ was there one day and then disappeared the next,” says the busy mum-of-five, who ended up taking the leap during the COVID-19 shutdowns when she was taking care of a two-year-old and homeschooling a child in kindergarten, year three and year eight, as well as a 16-year-old.
“It’s been challenging,” she says.
“But if we didn’t have a paper during this critical time, the record of the community’s thoughts and feelings wouldn’t exist.”
Capturing history is really important to Jasmin, who was recently down at the local Yass library looking at the town’s first newspaper edition, which was covering Eden-Monaro’s role in an election at the time.
“Now we’re part of that physical archive. It’s very humbling to know that I have a role in this as an editor, says the former television journalist.
“For me, as a former journalist, I thought, well who else is going to do it?
“Like any small community, we have to be many things.”
Jasmin is also a Yass Valley councillor but her early career goes back to the ‘90s in the Hunter Valley where she worked in broadcasting before moving into TV.
Once she was working in television, Jasmin scored a job with Channel 9 in Perth, where she worked before moving with her husband to Canada. When they came back to Australia, he was offered a job in Canberra in 2011, but when looking for a place to live Jasmin liked the appeal of Yass, because it was more like her hometown, Maitland.
“We drove through Yass, down the main street, and thought, this is it, this is home,” she says.
“When you become part of a community like this, particularly when you have kids, it fast-tracks you into the community.
“Once you’re embedded in a community like Yass Valley, it grows around your heart.”
Now, Jasmin is thrilled to be working alongside other passionate locals to bring a paper, that’s 100 per cent local, to the community.
“We’ve got a team of six including journalists, photographers, designers,” she says.
The publication also has a team of volunteer columnists from the area who are experts in fields such as technology, sports and pets.
“It’s early days but we’ll be making flight adjustments as we continue and respond to our readers’ needs,” she says.
“My aim as an editor is very clear and I have a role to promote and seek loyalty from our residents to shop local because it’s never been as important as now, for their sustainability.
“Once upon a time it would be light news, but it’s important to tell their stories because they’ve just survived one of the most dramatic economic events this century.”
The “Yass Valley Times” has a distribution of 16,000 copies a month and is available, for $2, at about eight locations.
The locations are mostly in Yass, Hume and Murrumbateman, but Jasmin welcomes any Canberrans to cross the border, buy a copy and support one of their local cafes while reading it.