John B Fairfax, the former owner of the Rural Press Group, once told me over a media presentation lunch that ‘The day rural communities started publishing their own local newspapers was the day that he would go out of business.’
We were both speakers at an event hosted by Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. He spoke on the role of Rural Press in country NSW, while I spoke about the emergence of community owned newspapers in rural and remote communities that were filling the gap for local news and information that was not being covered by the Rural Press papers.
While contracted by the NSW Government to help outback and remote communities set up their Community Technology Centres, I would spend my weekends running workshops in how to publish their own local newspapers using this technology.
In November, 2011, John Fairfax severed his ties with the media empire that bore his name by selling his 9.7 per cent stake in Fairfax Media for $193 million. Since then Rural Press has closed its papers in Warren and Cobar where community newspapers thrive and this trend will continue while Rural Press starves these communities of local news and content. – Marje Prior