We have just ticked over into the month of May and we have been so busy that we missed it. The first joint edition of the Coota Times/Twin Town Times came out on April 23 2020, just over 2 years ago.

We only realised Monday morning that the date had passed us by. Like many other small business owners, we have been focussing on keeping our heads above water and the wolf from the door, all the while battling lockdowns and Covid.

That makes for some interesting imagery. We have enjoyed contiing to provide both towns a print product, something that sales show both towns still desire.

This will become increasingly hard in the very near future. We currently employ 4 full-time staff as well as a number of casuals to get the job done each week. However, gone are the days when the local paper could ‘feed’ 16 individuals like the Herald did at the end of the last century.

Times have changed. We will be out and about in Coota and the Twin Towns to talk to business owners over the course of the next few weeks as to how we can help them promote their businesses and organisations during the winter months.

We are here to help you and we need you to help us as well. We need to build our advertising base and we need to show you what we can do for you. We have been able to provide a print product for 2 years longer than what was anticipated when the Herald stopped printing. Now things have become very interesting. The newspaper industry faces unprecedented times.

First, a quick history lesson.

The first printing press was invented around 1450, some 570 years ago, however, we now face a couple of crucial problems.

It comes down to the paper used to print our papers (newsprint) and the aluminium used on the printing press to print the image on the paper. The Age is a daily newspaper in Melbourne that has been published since 1854.

Last week it ran a story which contained some startling revelations.

It said, “Price hikes slated to hit regional newspapers on July 1 from Australia’s sole remaining newsprint plant are worse than the industry has feared, with some publishers reporting price jumps of 80 per cent over previous rates and orders going only half filled. Regional media representatives have asked the federal government for rapid help, fearing the cost rises could result in newsroom closures.”

The Times has already moved printers once this year to secure a ‘better deal’ and to ensure our short term future. The Age said, “Norwegian paper giant Norske Skog has closed its New Zealand and Albury mills in recent years because of a long-term decline in demand for newsprint, leaving only its Boyer facility in northern Tasmania making that type of paper in the region.

International options are limited. Another major global wood products company, Finland’s UPM, is facing a crippling strike that has lasted about four months.

Russia, a major supplier of wood, is under sanctions because of its invasion of Ukraine. And freight from Asian paper suppliers has become more costly as a result of the global supply chain crunch.”

“Regional publishers have previously said they were expecting price rises between 30 and 40 per cent.”

The government has  already put millions of dollars towards regional media in recent years, however, much of this was spent updating websites which cost more than $100,000 and looked after the big end of town while not investing in securing the future of print.

The Times has received only a small amount of government funding and nothing anywhere near the $100,000 others have. Take about $90,000 off!

ACM mastheads averaged about $114,000 each masthead then many of them stopped printing. According to The Age, “Industry sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because commercial deals are sensitive, said the largest publishers such as Nine, which owns The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and News Corp, which owns papers including The Australian, were not likely to be affected as severely as smaller publishers.” Publishers like the Times which has interests in 5 towns and 3 products are generally regarded as ‘small fry.’ Coota has shown what can be done if people put their minds together. The Co-op has been a financial success thus far with just a small amount of money needed to reach its target. All options will soon be on the table for the Coota Times to secure its future in print, digitally, both, and into the future, so that we can still have a news product. Our saying is a town isn’t a town without a newspaper.

Our motto at the Twin Town Times has been for more than 8 years,

“In For The Long Haul.”

We may need to look at every avenue to ensure we are here into the future and post this financial year.