Print is alive and thriving

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In Wellsford, an 89-year-old ratepayer is starting a rates revolt over a targeted levy to fix Rodney’s transport woes.

In Christchurch, The Star reports that a young fraudster is jailed for scamming the elderly “yet again”, while the jobs of eight King Country meter-readers in Taumarunui have been retained and the high school pool, reheated to its normal 27.5 degrees, has been repainted and is open for swimmers.  

Lizard News, a newcomer to the New Zealand Community Newspaper Association and serving the Aongatete, Omokoroa, Pahoia, Te Puna and Whakamarama districts in the Bay of Plenty, reports that more than 60 years after it was briefly pinned to his chest by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in 1944, Bill Wanstal DSM decided to wear his famous medal at last.

It was awarded for “bravery, zeal and cheerfulness in the face of the Enemy while serving in His Majesty’s Submarine Unrivaled in many highly successful war patrols from Malta” and, now 97, Bill admitted to Lizard News reporter Matthew Farrell that he was “really impressed” that a New Zealand Army captain at this year’s ANZAC service spotted the medal and gave him a “tremendous, impeccable salute”.

Four of us from Gulf News spent last weekend at the annual New Zealand Community Newspaper conference in Rotorua and there was little doubt that New Zealand’s independent and locally owned community newspapers are alive and thriving. 

The armfuls of newspapers we each take every year filled tables along two sides of the conference hall and delegates browsed each other’s publications, checking for newcomers, guessing winners, sharing the year’s best ideas and touting for solutions to the issues we have in common.  

In this company, with the number of editorially-led newspaper titles increasing year on year, there’s no shortage of hard-hitting local stories and campaigns, backed up with a robust mix of community news, photographs, business, entertainment, sport, food, fashion, health, puzzles, travel, opinion, world news, property, classifieds, gardening, motoring, home and special interest features.

It’s remarkable how interesting every community looks through the lens of its own newspaper, whether it’s The Star in Christchurch, founded in 1868 and with a free circulation of 92,000, or a small but perfectly formed monthly serving a handful of rural townships.

Fun, too. When it came to judging the best headline category in the annual awards, Virginia Larson admitted that the  Post Newspaper had got her goat – in a good way. “It was impossible to go past “Kid offender spends night at police station”, she said, adding that credit also went to the  photographer who talked Constable Tom Tran into holding the four-legged juvenile delinquent for the paper’s cameraman. She also applauded the subtle alliteration of “Tinker, tailor, tractor-maker” as a headline for a story about a creative, 81-year-old model maker.

The Star won best all round newspaper, with the Whakatane Beacon (which also prints both Gulf News and our Waiheke Weekender papers) winning the section for newspapers up to 14,999 circulation. Judge Jim Tully applauded its lively, comprehensive local news coverage and the work of its very competent team of reporters who generated extensive coverage of the area’s floods in April 2017.

Our lovely Weekender editor and feature writer Safia Archer was runner up in the category for best junior feature and lifestyle journalist. • Liz Waters

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