Sarah's column: An open letter to the Community Newspapers around Australia


For this week's column, I thought I would take a bit of cheeky view on things and write about something that has been bothering me for a long time. Looking forward to your thoughts on it...

Dear Community Newspapers of Australia,

It is with much regret to tell you that there has been a word thrown around to describe you in recent times that may come as a shock. That word is BORING. 

This angers me because you have so much potential as you drop into letterboxes for free all around Australia every week. 

Okay so I am 22, what do I know? Basically nothing. However, my fresh eyes see things with a new view of the world and so I am going to voice my opinion. 

I am sick of picking up a community newspaper feeling like it was designed for an old person with a smiling photo of senior on the front. Or some tacky old politican on some attention-seeking antic. 

You are not just a voice for the people ranting about fluoride in the water in the Letters to Editor section.

And your photo quality! Now, I understand that many community newspapers have to multi-skill their journalists to take photos as well, which is fantastic, but could we please have something a little more creative than people standing there like stunned mullets with their arms crossed? People are far more interesting than that. 

I feel like there is this stigma surrounding community newspapers that they feel this need to be boring, dorky and drab just because you are a 'community newspaper'. You all conform to the same unofficial  rules around Australia. You all have a similar layout on the front page and nothing much changes on the inside in terms of content or advertisements. 

Long, draining articles are not appealing anymore. I want to read about things that are entertaining, fun little features, odd spots, interesting photos, fascinating articles, what's going on a little outside the community too, what the local venues are doing for young people (not just the happenings at the RSL), what is cool on the internet, maybe a little bit of gossip, maybe a little bit of scandal, pets, cute things about, health feature, more romantic stories (love makes the world go round remember) and some things that are left of center. I'm over it all being about the local netball club winning the premiership - I know is an important happening but it gets to the point where it is Groundhog Day every week the local paper arrives. Spice it up a little bit, maybe get the netballer's to submit 10 of their favourite things in their life on a page or get them to submit drawings of themselves - just something different - be creative.

And I am sick to my eyeballs of politicians doing things for their own political gain and re-reading press releases by their media people that have been slightly changed into articles - it is enough to put a pack of hyperactive monkeys to sleep. Can there just be a designated page in all community newspapers for their rants and raves?

I say all this, my dear friend Community Newspaper because you are still extremely important.

Who else is going to tell me what is going on in my local community? People are always going to want to know what is going on. I won't go out of my way to find out but if I am sitting in a cafe and a local newspaper is in front of me that is available to read, I will pick it up. Local advertisers also rely heavily on you, please pay them the respect back by offered good content that people want to read so your distribution is not a lie, when half the people are flinging their community newspapers from the mailbox straight into the bin. I couldn't think of a personal friend of mine who claims to read their community newspaper and if they did, they would probably be stirred up for it and I'd feel a little embarrassed for them. 

Many of you have vibrant real estate sections that a lot of people like to read or that most people just automatically skip to read. But hey! While they are there, you should give them some bonus entertainment from the content you can provide. 

And what ever happened to making it cool and colourful like a magazine? Why are you so conservative? Why don't you involve more of your local community with photos and reader interaction? Hence the popularity of blogs and social media, reader interaction is something we all love!

I don't want the internet to beat must live on. 

I hope you have not been offended by any of these thoughts. I just had to get it out need to change. 

Kind regards,

Sarah Lawrence

This letter may seem a little harsh and parts of it are over the top. And I may be viewing the world from limited eyes as I have not seen every community newspaper in Australia (and I am sure some are very good but a lot are better off as fuel for fire). So I would love to know from you: What do you think makes your community newspaper good? Do you think my letter is fair or rubbish? 

Comments (0)

Post a Comment