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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
his home town with his wife and three daughters, expected the battle of his life, but the News-Express published only four issues before selling to the opposition. The owners of the Albany Advertiser had promised that the Esperance Advertiser would be locally produced and printed within a few years", but this did not happen and the Esperance locals became disgruntled. Dunwoodie had been submitting each year a budget of what it would cost to print the paper in Esperance and outlined detailed arguments for the move. He had done this in association with the manager from Albany. His father, who had been a printing foreman in Albany, was involved, too.Dunwoodie said in an interview at Esperance in August 2003: "There was another young manager down there by the name of John Clarke, and he rang up and said, well, why don't you and I do exactly what you're saying in this report? We could start a paper over there like that." Clarke, an experienced printer, said he knew he could print a paper offset. Dunwoodie was hesitant, but Clarke con- vinced him that they could start a paper and make it work. So he left the Esperance Advertiser and Clarke left the Albany Advertiser and they formed a partnership that launched the Esperance Express on January 18, 1973. They described it as "the first Esperance-produced newspaper in the modern times". Clarke, who became the manager of the Express, held a two-thirds interest, and Dunwoodie, the editor, a one-third inter- est. They employed only two other staff members, Judy Terrell and Judy Denton. The editorial policy was to publish only local news. The Esperance Advertiser ceased publication on October 18, 1974, and the Express became a bi-weekly in August 1977. Dunwoodie says the Express was the first country newspaper in Western Australia to be published on a web offset press. The 1973 press was a small, single-sheet flatbed Solna that handled only two pages, one side at a time. All typographical material in vol- ume was done on an IBM composer, similar to an IBM typewriter, with interchangeable type heads. Other type was placed on paper with Letraset. Writing in a centenary history of Esperance, Dunwoodie records: "The paper experienced a period of instability, due to a rapid expansion in its geographical cover- age. At one point the Express served one of the state's largest readerships. Papers were established in Kalgoorlie, Bunbury and Margaret River, as well as linking into the existing paper in Merredin. Meanwhile, John Clarke became in- volved in some costly court proceedings over charges of stealing after he had issued some cheques that bounced. He was later acquitted by a Kalgoorlie jury. (Clarke was later jailed three times for scams unrelated to newspapers.) This placed the Express under "severe financial stress" and Dunwoodie lost his house and investments. Local farmer and businessman Bob Stead took over the paper with a minimum of upheaval for the Esperance-based staff, although the compa- ny had to close the Merredin and Bunbury papers and later the Kalgoorlie paper. The company rebuilt quickly, aided by tead's sound financial understanding. Clarke tried to continue in his old ways nd did not get along with Stead. Clarke was removed and Dunwoodie, after initial esistance, was persuaded to become man- ging editor. The expansion that followed ncluded the production of A4 papers at Norseman, Ravensthorpe, Kambalda and Kalgoorlie. The paper was quick to defend sperance years ago against perceived hreats, such as Westrail's bid to divert a hird of the port's grain exports to Albany, and took a strong stand in the long-running iron ore debate. Once many people had agreed to give the Port Authority an op- portunity to show that it could handle the iron ore from Koolyanobbing without any damage to the pristine beaches and the town, the Express committed itself as a watchdog on the issue. This infuriated the port authority managers. Rural Press Ltd bought the Express for about $1.6 million in late 1993 and Dunwoodie continued as managing editor until November 1994. The paper had 23 staff then and an annual pay sheet of about $650,000. The Esperance acquisition was part of an expansion program by Rural Press in WA that year. It bought also the remaining 50 per cent of Collie Mail Newspapers, includ- ing a printing operation at Collie, a string of radio stations from Bunbury to Kalgoorlie, the Merredin Wheatbelt Mercury and the Wagin Argus. The editors since Dunwoodie's departure have been Lyndel Taylor, Tim Slater, Mark Hooper and, most recently, Paul Goldie. Hooper won plaudits during his six years as editor before departing for the West Australian at the end of 2005. Goldie was appointed editor in February 2006. In August last year, the Express was given a facelift after 10 years and began ap- pearing in what was described as a "mod- ernised format". The paper now appears on Wednesdays and Fridays, instead of Tuesdays and Saturdays. Rod Kirkpatrick is a journalism educa- tor, newspaper historian and the editor of the Australian Newspaper History Group Newsletter. of news for 66 years PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 59 history The o ce of the Esperance Times