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38 redundancies as Mount Gambier’s local newspaper, The Border Watch, closes after 159 years

After 159 years in publishing, Mount Gambier’s The Border Watch Newsgroup is closing its doors, seeing 38 staff retrenched and three mastheads closed.

The Border Watch, South Eastern Times, which covers Millicent and The Pennant in Penola will all close as of this Friday, with the company’s board saying everything had been done to save the titles.

“As currently experienced throughout the regional media industry the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly worsened the financial viability of TBW that was already severely impacted by declining advertising revenues and newspaper sales as well as increasing competition from a variety of digital media platforms. Taking these issues into consideration TBW has made the very difficult decision to close its operations,” they said.

“The company employs 38 staff and their loyalty during some difficult times in the past year is of the highest order and directors paid tribute to these talented, hard-working and in many cases, long-serving members of The Border Watch family.

“To our loyal readers and advertisers we say a big thank you for your support over many years.”

The Border Watch was founded in 1861 and has always been locally-owned, first sitting with the Laurie and Watson families, and purchased by the late Allan Scott in 1977.

The Border Watch isn’t the only regional title to take a hit during COVID-19. News Corp Australia closed 14 titles and over 100 of its titles will no longer appear in print form, Australian Community Media paused a number of its publications during the time and closed several print plants and a number of independent titles closed also.

Mildura’s Sunraysia Daily, which is the only daily newspaper in the region, closed, alongside three other Elliott Newspaper Group titles, including the Swan Hill Guardian and the Gannawarra Times in the Loddon-Mallee region.

The Yarram Standard and the Great Southern Star in Victoria’s South Gippsland have also closed indefinitely. The Yarram Standard was 145 years old and the Great Southern Star was 130.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the union for the media industry, has called on the government to provide more support for regional titles, but also questioned the closures of independent titles when aid and grants are currently available to support titles.

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