A group of women in southern New South Wales is hoping to prove there is a future for local newspapers — by launching their own.
- Two community-led newspapers have replaced suspended newspaper titles
- News Corp and Australian Community Media recently suspended and closed many of their regional publications
- Emerging in their place, the Yass Valley Times and Southern Highlands Express are owned and run by locals
Former television journalist Jasmin Jones has joined forces with two silent partners, both members of her local community, to establish the Yass Valley Times.
The title, in its third week of publication, is aimed at filling the void left by the suspension of the community’s former local weekly masthead, the Yass Tribune.
“The feeling that we’d been abandoned during COVID really stuck in my craw,” said Ms Jones, who was already juggling duties as a mother of five and a local councillor in Yass
“We were left without a credible source of information.
“We can’t leave our community just relying on the government and social media for its primary news source.”
‘You see stories wherever you go’
To run the new paper the group set up a business called Merino Media, an homage to their home region — one of Australia’s most renowned Merino breeding districts.
The group has contracted journalists, photographers, web and print layout designers and community columnists.
Ms Jones said they invested their own money and only time would tell whether the newspaper would be viable.
‘A local paper made by locals’
The Yass group are not the only ones banking on a continuing appetite for local news.
In the nearby Southern Highlands, a small media organisation has established a weekly newspaper.
Cristian King launched the Southern Highlands Express after publication of the Southern Highlands News was halted.
“The community has really backed us and it’s really allowed us to boost our content production,” he said.
“Ultimately it’s a local paper made by locals.”
Mr King said what his company and Merino Media were doing could be replicated in other communities that had lost their newspapers.
Ms Jones said local newspapers were important history keepers for regional areas and encouraged other regions to start their own papers.
“Without your contributions, it won’t go down in history; what people were thinking [and] what people were feeling,” she said.