Over the past few months, the future of the Gwydir News has been uncertain. The publication, which was to go to print for one final time in early July was kept on life support in a last ditched effort to secure a suitable new owner.
The potential closure of the paper has been the cause of much distress and sadness throughout the community. Amid the grips of a crippling drought and following the recent closure of the National Australia Bank in Bingara last year, the end of the paper become yet another symbolic nail in the coffin for our district.
While there are many people who use social media as a source of news and events, a large cross section of the community continue to rely on the paper for their information and as a link to the wider community. In our connected age, there is no shortage of news and opinion bombarding us every minute of the day. The latest terror attack, political debates or the shenanigans of celebrities, it’s all covered in minute detail.
However, without a local paper, missing from that motley collection of trivia and substance is news of what is happening in our own backyards. Local news about our schools, tributes to loved ones who have passed, local events and council issues that impact the everyday lives of our towns and residents.
Despite an extensive search for a buyer by former owner and editor of The Gwydir News Ms Nancy Capel, a suitable candidate was unable to be identified. Ms Capel who has been in the newspaper business for 33 years, 23½ of them as owner of the Bingara Advocate, and for the last three years owner of the Warialda Standard expressed her concern for the paper but felt after many years of sacrifice it was time to retire.
“For the past 33 years, apart from Christmas, I have not been able to take a long weekend break, and during the past 11 year while my husband, John ‘Wacka’ Williams, was a Senator, I was unable to attend many of the functions that I should have and would have liked to. My husband also passed up opportunities because I was committed to publish the paper each week. Now that Wacka has retired from politics, we want to do things together, including travel,” said Ms Capel.
With the future of the paper still in jeopardy, Gwydir Shire Council felt that The Gwydir News was a community asset too important to lose. After much discussion, it was resolved at a recent Council meeting that Gwydir Shire Council would step in as the caretakers for a period of 12 months to ensure that the paper continued until a suitable buyer was found.
Mayor John Coulton said that while a newspaper was not a normal function of Council, it was felt it was necessary to ensure that The Gwydir News continued. “A local newspaper is an important part of building a strong community, without it we lose an important asset and part of our identity,” said Mayor Coulton.
“The Council have committed to running the paper for a period of 12 months while a suitable buyer is found. During this time the paper must remain profitable, or at the very least cost neutral” Said Mayor Coulton.
Taking over the helm from Ms Capel is Nikki Adams. Nikki is currently the Tourist Officer at the Warialda Visitor Information Centre and is an accomplished photographer running her own successful photography business specialising in wedding photography.
For the last three years, Nikki has been a key member of the Black Dog Ball committee and has been involved with countless committees and events within the Gwydir Shire. Before relocating to Warialda in 2015, Nikki worked as a cameraman for NBN in Tamworth and directed the news at WIN TV in Wollongong. Upon relocation, Nikki began working with Ms Capel at the Warialda Standard gaining valuable skills in the newspaper industry before to commencing her role with Gwydir Shire Council.
Nikki will fill the role of head journalist and editor of the paper and will cover stories across the shire. In Bingara long time employee of the Bingara Advocate and in more recent times, The Gwydir News.
Anne Brien will remain in the Bingara office heading up accounts and distribution. To complete the Gwydir News team Council are seeking applications for a third member who will be responsible for securing advertising sales and reporting on stories and events preferably to the Bingara and Upper Horton region.
The new look Gwydir News team are excited to breath new live into the publication and are keen to develop strong links with the community to ensure a high level of community content and events are featured. To submit any articles or if you would like your event covered by the news team, please email:
We look forward to in the near future bringing to our readers and advertisers a full package media platform, developing our online presence with a new look unified website and social media accounts.
Another focus of the new Gwydir News team will be to ensure that past issues, photos and documents are properly archived and will be sent to the State Archives. The Council has invested $5,000 in the business to ensure that the archives going back to 1934 are protected forever and available online to everyone. The Council’s investment has also secured all the equipment and software required to produce the paper each week. This was simply a reflection of the former owner’s ongoing commitment to the Gwydir Community.