Local publisher launches new title to fill hole left by ACM closure

Wimmera Mallee News has announced the launch of the Horsham Times, adding to its other western Victorian titles including the Warracknabeal Herald and Dimboola Banner, from the end of May.

The opening looks to fill a hole left by the ‘pauses’ Australian Community Media (ACM) rolled out across its network last month, with the Wimmera Mail-Times one of the impacted titles. It isn’t yet known when, or if, those titles will return.

Speaking to the ABC, managing editor David Ward said the region had been left with ‘a huge vacuum’ for local news following ACM’s exit.

“I’ve had a huge number of phone calls from people keen to see a newspaper in Horsham,” Ward told the ABC.

ACM ‘paused’ a number of publications following the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Wimmera Mail-Times and sister papers the Stawell Times-News and Ararat Advertiser and closed four of its print plants. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has been outspoken in its unhappiness about the decision, threatening to report the publisher to the Fair Work Commission.

Ararat has already seen the launch of a new title in the Ararat Advocate.

Ward told the ABC he would be leasing a property in Horsham for the paper and hiring up to six additional local staff.

Michael Waite, a former resident of Naracoorte in South Australia, was also pushed to launch a new regional title when ACM closed the title in the region. The Naracoorte Community News looks to fill the gap left when the Naracoorte Herald closed, with Waite saying ACM ‘walked away’ from the town.

“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.”


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