Former Naracoorte resident launches local newspaper after ACM ‘walked away from our community’

A former resident of the South Australian town of Naracoorte has launched a local newspaper to replace the Naracoorte Herald.

Michael Waite, who now lives in America, said he felt driven by Australian Community Media (ACM) to launch The Naracoorte Community News. Waite and a small team worked on the title to turn it from idea to print in three weeks.

Waite says ACM ‘walked away’ from Naracoorte Photo: Kate Hill

ACM announced it would be suspending a number of titles during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Naracoorte Herald.

The first issue of the Naracoorte Community News went on sale for $2 in the first week of May, selling its print run of 1700 copies within 36 hours. Waite said the town of 8000 people shouldn’t be without a newspaper.

“A town the size of Naracoorte does not deserve to be without a newspaper,” he said.

“It’s part of the fabric of a community, like the hospital or police station. I grew up with the Naracoorte Herald. My mum Sue sold advertising and then managed it for thirty-five years.

“Australian Community Media walked away from our community with this paper and it struck me that I should see what I could do.”

Waite has been based in the United States for the last 20 years and returned to South Australia in 2019 amid family illness. He and his family were then forced to stay during the COVID-19 travel bans.

Speaking to The Lead, Waite admitted he had no publishing experience, but suggested that might be the edge The Naracoorte Community News needs.

“[It] gives us a tremendous disadvantage in a way, but also a tremendous advantage in other ways. It is such an opportunity to fail but I would argue that the industry has failed anyway.

“I was very sceptical to be underwriting a newspaper in 2020, but every step is a milestone.”

For the paper to stand the test of time, Waite said community has to be at the core of its value system.

“The publication has to serve the community and they are wanting an independent news source, something focused locally, built locally, and printed locally and that’s what we’re going to provide,” he said.

“My objective is to stand it up and make it sustainable. We’ll take it day-by-day.”

A small staff will produce the second edition of the title, relying on a wider network of contributors for editorial content. Waite said the title would continue publishing even if the Naracoorte Herald returns.

“Our hope is that people will be so proud of the content – The News is their paper. Why would they need another one?”


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