I’m feeling kind of spoiled right now. After writing about the “news gap” of Lightning Ridge recently, a pause to consider the plethora of riches I’m enjoying at home.
Noosa has always been lucky with the choice of print media, even in the “most affordable” back blocks of the shire, from which GXpress is produced.
In Cooroy, the community-owned Cooroy Rag is an established institution, giving back cash from its advertising proceeds each year. The three-weekly tabloid is professionally produced and printed locally at NewsCorp Australia’s Yandina print site. A local favourtite, the community-owned newspaper gives its profits back to local groups (here’s a traffic-stopping collection of lucky recipients).
Now a relative newcomer, Your Local Lifestyle is showing the strength of the market.
Through the weekly Noosa Today, the Noosa shire is also probably best served by Star News, the Melbourne-based family-owned media company backing the informal Today group of mastheads.
I should mention that all of the local publications I’ve mentioned here are free-distribution print newspapers, in Noosa Today’s case apparently a precondition for the business of local real estate agents, and supporting a glossy property pull-out. Today’s Gympie stablemate – filling the gap left by News’ Gympie Times closure – has a cover price.
Your Local Lifestyle – which currently has ‘Noosa Hinterland’ in small type on its masthead – is also gaining advertising support from Cooroy businesses, an indication of a marketplace coming back to life post-COVID. It’s a 48-page tabloid also available online.
Walk down Cooroy’s Maple Street and you’ll also see the free Rotary-published Eumundi Voice on display, a 32-page A5 glossy with a claimed 5000 circulation, and sound editorial content, thanks to the efforts of editor Relle (as in Narelle) Schuh. Despite Eumundi – famous for its markets – being in the neighbouring Sunshine Coast council area, there’s a kinship with Noosa and this too, draws advertising from Cooroy; rates start at $36 for a one-fifteenth page.
But wait (as they say with the TV steak knives) there’s more.
I’m back in Cooroy a week later, and two more glossies with a distinctively familial look about them are together in a rack in Emerald Street. Welcome My Weekly Preview and its monthly over-55s stablemate, Your Time. Both good-looking and full of advertising, with Preview at 56 pages of the trimmed short-tabloid format, displaying its strength with older-demographic advertisers across the broader Sunshine Coast region. Your Time runs at 40 pages.
I’ll leave the definition of “local” up to you. No doubt, however of the local advertiser support for the even thicker, seasonal InNoosa magazine, which lands with a thud at 164 A4 pages of heavyweight stock, although mostly-local content is largely advertorial-driven. Editor-in-chief Deb Caruso drives a similar edition. Hello Sunshine, for the neighbouring council area.
During the three decades during which I’ve been lucky enough to be close to this part of the world, there have been a succession of changes. I even once tried to buy one tiny local publication in which we saw potential, leaving the possible deal in limbo while I travelled to Düsseldorf in Germany for the DRUPA trade show… and returning to find Rural Press had bought it for a then eyewatering $300,000.
During that time, the APN and Rural camps swapped mastheads, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp and magazine printer Michael Hannan came and went (twice in Rupert’s case), and a local entrepreneur came close to a hat-trick by launching and selling one local newspaper, setting up in competition with it, and repeating the process, prompting speculation about a third pitch.
COVID-19 was the trigger for the closure of more than 100 mostly former APN mastheads, which News had refused to sell to Antony Catalano’s Australian Community Media, and the local newspapers in Noosa and Gympie are among a handful of Today Group papers filling the gaps, and printed on presses in Rockhampton, sold to them after News left town.
Since I’ve broadened this to mention the Sunshine Coast region, I should qualify that by saying that after News shut the print edition of its Sunshine Coast Daily in booming Maroochydore, it came back with a weekly edition, still curiously (and like the monthly Women’s Weekly magazine) “daily”. Perhaps in response to criticism from the Coast mayor Mark Jamieson who (trivia note) is a former APN newspaper manager.
Times change, and – like McDonald’s restaurants, I find – the local media reflects the character of the area it serves. I’m lovin’ it, while it lasts.
Reading back over the Lightning Ridge story however, and the university-driven commentary, it’s worth noting that only a couple of the publications I’ve cited meet what used to be the ‘local newspaper’ criteria of covering council meetings, and none seem to attend court. Perhaps you get what you pay for after all.