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10 September, 2021

First birthday for Cairns Local News

JUST over a year ago Cairns Local News commenced publishing. A dedicated team of locals with experience undertook the massive task of building a paper from scratch.

By David Gardiner

This week the proudly independent local news venture turned one and is delighted to be celebrating the publication of its 52nd edition.

Their main motivation for launching the Cairns Local News weekly paper and website was that the quality of regional newspapers had declined steadily over the past 15 years, so much so that the vernacular of ‘local’ had disappeared.

The team had a strong determination to put ‘local’ back into the newspaper industry in Cairns and the region.

They wanted to give a voice to local people and allow the broadest possible cross section of the community the opportunity to read news that is relevant to them.

Changes in regional media in recent years have been devastating. Newspapers, television and radio have all been hit hard by closures and cuts.

Locals have seen what happens when the media is controlled by large multinational corporations. The local voice disappears.

Last year, four local papers in the region were closed down, their local voices silenced.

This is difficult for those communities. Some major regional centres where the local newspapers had been publishing for more than a century had their newspaper shut down, and their local voice extinguished.

This is not good for the community and does not give a voice to the community.

Similar cuts have been witnessed in other media, with local television news bulletins disappearing or changing format, reducing their localised content.

Radio has also been hit, with one radio company syndicating their programs and reducing their localised breakfast show.

Cairns Local News is the only free weekly news publication covering the Cairns, Port Douglas and Cassowary Coast regions. Its team is convinced they made the right move to create a new independent, truly local news publication and website from scratch.

There appears to be a genuine appetite for independent news here in Cairns and the far north.

Cairns Local News is telling stories that would not normally be told, and each week there are more businesses and individual reaching out looking for a medium to take their stories to the public.

Even in the face of growing social media ‘news’ sites, local newspapers continue to produce credible and timely local content.

It’s a misconception to say that social media is the forum for community news.

Social media has a part to play, but people trust a hardcopy paper. They can see who owns it, what editorial focus they have and also see the identities of the writers.

Many social media and internet sites are populated by anonymous followers or even fake profiles. Unfortunately, social media is also the platform that publishes misleading or erroneous information. Cairns Local News is a member of the Australian Press Council, and we abide by their Code of Ethics.

The Cairns Local News team has a positive outlook for the future of this publication and its website news platform, saying that having the community onside is one of the keys:

 The community has embraced them and the opportunity to have a free paper as well as a website with no paywall. With over 30,000 hardcopy readers each week and thousands interacting with them on their digital platforms, they are meeting a great need in the market.

 Not everyone can afford to buy a paper, and some people do not want to, or cannot receive their news digitally. With internet access issues throughout the regional areas, our readers enjoy the opportunity to pick up a copy and read it at leisure.

Cairns Local News has left readers in no doubt about its commitment to a local voice for the Far North, having published over 1500 local stories in the past 12 months.

Many of these would never have been told if we did not champion the concept of free and open access to news.

They are firmly focussed on building their publication on a weekly basis. Wanting to cover more stories and build the paper into a major publication and voice for all residents.

Cairns Local News has been supported in the past 12 months by some amazing businesses who also share their passion for independent media. This is why Cairns Local News is critical to the region and why they have been supported by so many readers and smart advertisers. They are bringing local back to media in the north.

The directors of Cairns Local News would like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the team who have worked so hard to make this newspaper a reality.

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