By Roy Pilott – News Director
The return to Level 2 is the biggest sign yet that the long battle with Covid-19 is being won.
The battle ahead, though, will be just as difficult as the economy groans under the strain of lost jobs and missed opportunities.
Your Cambridge and Te Awamutu News – Waipā’s only printed masthead during the Lockdown – is to become two separate newspapers again.
Since the country went into Lockdown, your access to print news has been restricted.
It started when the Government announced that 80 mainly free community newpapers across the country, owned by members of the Independent Community Newspapers Association (CNA), were not “essential”.
Good Local Media owner David Mackenzie, publisher of the News, successfully fought as CNA president to have the Government decision overturned.
It was too late for most of those 80 newspapers, which had already resigned themselves to not printing.
Rival corporate owned publications in Waipā also ceased to appear for four to five weeks, and only two of the three have returned to date.
The Te Awamutu News and Cambridge News mastheads, though, were temporarily merged and continued to appear every week as your only “local” publication.
“We went into this with our eyes wide open – our combined newspapers have cost us more to compile, print and deliver than they have made,” Mackenzie said.
The Waipā community supported the decision through advertising and positive feedback.
“Advertisers continued to support us when they were facing Lockdown difficulties – they took the same view we did – it was for the community’s good,” Mackenzie said.
“Beyond the wage subsidies, we certainly had no help from the Government – which continues to largely ignore “local” CNA members and places adverts with Australian owned companies or on the social media platforms it regularly bemoans.
“But we didn’t do it for money – we did it because we are a true local community newpaper company, and we don’t walk away when the going gets tough.
We retained all our staff and provided the only avenue during Lockdown for our advertisers to continue getting their messages across. I think our advertising and editorial team has excelled,” Mackenzie said.
Former New Zealand Herald editor Gavin Ellis, in his regular whiteknightnews.com blog, this week paid tribute to the battling community mastheads, and fired a broadside at those media players whose community papers had “little, if any, truly local news”.
Ellis opened his piece by suggesting “thousands will no longer refer to the community newspaper that appears in their letterbox as the local rag”.
We suspect that has become a term of endearment and it will remain.
In the mean time, we will continue to bring you a full diet of local news – from parish pump stories to ones which challenge decision makers, from wedding anniversaries to business successes.
That’s what Good Local is all about.
“I have seen a lot of national media companies whose products were nowhere to be seen during the Lockdown now making a big thing about the shopping local theme,” Mackenzie said.
“When it comes to local, I think it’s easy to talk the talk – we have walked the walk.”.