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Panpa Bulletin : March 2006
42 | PaNPa bUlletiN March 2006 PUbliShiNg MatterS Peter ISaaCSon as I know from my years of publishing the Sunday Ob- server and a clutch of com- munity newspapers, all in competi- tion with Fairfax and News, the economic life of an independent newspaper publisher is never easy. And since I retired, the game has got even tougher, with major solo players such as Rural Press andWest Australian Newspapers taking over or competing with the ever dimin- ishing number of papers published by independent proprietors. Despite the challenging dif- ficulties, there are some still brave enough to eschew the blandish- ments of the majors, even to start up against them. One I particu- larly admire and am using in this column as an example of success in independence is Ken O'Flaherty, proprietor of the Buderim Chroni- cle who, with wife Lois, founded 'Buderim's own community news- paper' in the Sunshine Coast hin- terland against the well entrenched APN News and Media owned Noosa News and Sunshine Coast Daily, Hannan owned BuderimWeekly and the long established commu- nity-owned Noosa Journal. Before becoming a proprietor himself, O'Flaherty worked for a number of publishers including a spell with me at Peter Isaacson Publications and the Queensland Times. He is currentlyVice-presi- dent of the Queensland Country Press Association. O'Flaherty's rational for launch- ing Buderim Chronicle was his opinion the other papers, all owned by out-of-town publishers, did not cater for the people of Buderim, a growing centre for tourism, light industry (Buderim ginger is world famous) and commercial services. Judging by the size and quality of the paper he is now publish- ing, O'Flaherty's view was correct and his gamble successful.The 'locally owned, locally produced, locally printed' paper claims to go into every home (16,000 in the 12 geographic districts of the circula- tion area). O'Flaherty has done what all aspiring publishers should do - pick an area which is rich, both in community activity and economic potential. Buderim is the centre of a thriving agricultural district, and according to buderim.com, home to 42 categories of locally owned com- mercial enterprises.This is reflected in the tight 16 columns of trades and services and the (at least) 70 per cent display advertising content. A recent 24 page issue (February 9), had 95 display ads including three full pages, all in color.The quality of the advertisements and the lavish use of color reflect the competence of the in-house graphic designers. The Chronicle maintains its prof- itable ad pagination without relying on the ubiquitous property market, which bolsters the revenue of most of its competitors. But I predict that it will not be long before real estate becomes a more important feature of its ad mix. The Buderim Chronicle is run by a small but dedicated group of people. In addition to Ken, there is his wife Lois, veteran of the hospital- ity industry, described by Ken as 'the backbone of the Chronicle'(which probably means she holds the key to the petty cash tin and keeps a firm hand on the cheque book), edi- tor Jeanette Morrison (12 years with APN), ad-manager Don Hunt (27 years with APN) and their offsiders Miek Christiaansen,Viki McIntyre, KateWilson and Sharon Garrone. Production and admin facilities are state-of-the-art. All pre-press work is done in-house using In Design Creative Suite with an automated ad booking and layout system from Australian Publishing Services. Editorially, the Buderim Chroni- cle shines out as an example of what a community newspaper should be and what most are but whose front pages are spoilt by too many ads. The amalgam of local sport, profes- sional and amateur theatre, film, tel- evision and entertainment, crime, societal and church news, local and visiting personalities vie for atten- tion on the crowded news pages with the many faceted'publishers benefit' features and advertorials. O'Flaherty hopes to build the present 24 pages to a regular 40 by the end of the year. He deserves to make it. I have used the Buderim Chronicle as an example of what a dedicated independent publisher can achieve.There are others who are doing similarly. All bring to their communities an important spirit of freedom from the ever increasing hold of the nationals and interna- tionals on Australian newspaper publishing. Still room for independents Peter Isaacson frmly believes that in today’s world of mega media companies, there is still a role to play for independent newspapers. this is refected in the tight 16 columns of trades and services and the (at least) 70 per cent display advertising content. at irregular intervals, fve former community newspaper publishers get together in Melbourne for luncheon, discussion and what my thesaurus describes as magniloquence - boasting of triumphs and disasters long gone. of the fve John Mott, Ken heyes and Peter Isaacson are former publishers, while Julian Clarke and Dallas Swinstead are still prominent in newspapers; Julian as Managing Director of herald and Weekly times, Dallas as head of Swinstead Publishing Services which provides editorial for advertising features in the age. the talk and reminiscences range from how Ken heyes (with Charlie hollway) built Progress Press up from publishing an eight page suburban progress association newsletter to one of the largest commercial web printing and distribution companies in australia to how John Mott, with his father, his uncles and cousins, extracted $58 million (I think it was) from rupert Murdoch for their leader Group of community newspapers. the food and drink are always good, the talk even better. Clarke and Swinstead keep us up to date with the latest developments and gossip, salacious and otherwise. round about four in the afternoon the two workers go back to their toil and we three retirees trot off home wishing we were back working in the industry. Peter Issacson is a publisher and life member of PANPA. A new but select luncheon club