Western Herald Editor Marek Weiss discussing the future of the newspaper with Managing Director Ian Cole PHOTO TWH
The closure of rural newspapers across NSW has left many towns and communities without a local voice.
The Barrier Daily Truth at Broken Hill has stopped printing after 108 years in the business and the Sunraysia Daily at Mildura, which was meant to celebrate 100 years in print this year, has closed its doors too.
The Western Herald in Bourke is one of the few local newspapers still operating, but its future is now in doubt too due to falling advertising revenue from local business.
Already, one staff member has been forced to leave and two other fulltime staff members are now working part-time.
Advertising revenue have dropped significantly as local businesses struggle to keep trading or have closed shop as a result of the COVID-19 virus restrictions.
In 2018 when the Western Herald was threatened with closure due to declining advertising, the WREB Co-operative – licensee body of 2WEB, bought the paper and combined radio and newspaper operations at the studio building in Oxley Street, Bourke.
Chairman of the WREB Co-operative Ian Cole said it is important for the Western Herald to remain the voice of the community, along with radio station 2WEB, when difficulties impact on the morale of the district.
“We have struggled to keep the paper going during drought, economic downturn and now the pandemic,” Mr Cole said, “and we are trying to battle on for now and hope that local businesses and people in the wider community will continue to support their local paper”.
“But unless we can find enough advertising and newspaper support in the community, The Western Herald will have to close completely, and that would be a great shame after 133 years.
“Over the past few weeks advertising sales have dropped by more than 50%, and many organisations dependent on hospitality services and events have had to cancel their promotions.
Read more in the printed edition of the Western Herald.