The Local celebrates             its 200th edition

October 4th, 2020The Local celebrates its 200th edition

ONE thing the pandemic has done is bring us to Edition 200 much quicker than we had planned.

One day we were going along quite nicely, bringing out a fortnightly edition of The Local and enjoying life. The next we were weekly because we believed our Central Highlands communities needed good news and local news. That was back on March 23, our first weekly edition.
And here we are, on October 5, celebrating our 200th edition. If there had been no COVID-19, and none of us knew what social distancing was, or the best material for a mask, or that washing your hands for 20 seconds was the optimum to kill off a potentially deadly virus, we would have had to have waited until April 4, 2021 for this momentous occasion. (Of course, as proud as I am of what we have achieved with The Local, I would rather the latter.)
Anyway, you can only control so much, so this edition is about The Local and its wonderful crew and a thanks to the communities of our region for supporting it over the past seven years. It has been a hell of a ride, a lot of fun and we have created some great networks and connected communities.
I guess, as a journalist/editor, I am especially proud that The Local, while many other papers are closing, has managed to stay afloat and keep bringing out local news and good news. And that is down to a fantastic bunch of people, our crew, who have all joined us somewhere along the way, and been by our sides ever since.
At the height of the pandemic, and I know we are still finding our way through, we called everyone and broke the news that we couldn’t afford them. We would have to go it alone. “Stuff that,” they said. “We will keep working for you anyway.” Plenty of tears that night in gratitude for people who love The Local as much as we do. (Oh, we promised a kick-arse party one day soon.) There’s also a big thanks due to our amazing advertisers. If they could, they stayed with us; if they couldn’t they were up front and said they would be back. We know that, and love that!
Now, when we hit these milestones, you know, 100th, 150th…I like to drag out the story about how The Local got started. If you have already read that somewhere, skip the rest of this and go straight to the pages to read about our crew. Probably more interesting!
Anyway, it was 2013 and I was doing a bit of freelancing from home and Kyle was working part-time as a photographer with The Advocate. We were broke (a long story there – ill family member, paying rent in Queensland while living in Frankston while paying a mortgage in Glenlyon…) and pretty over it. Then someone said to Kyle: “You and Donna should start your own paper.” So we did.
We trailed around Daylesford with a crappy A4 mock-up and asked businesses if they would like to advertise in the space that said “your advert goes here” and some said they would.

So we wrote a few stories and took a few photos and put them together, got graphic design advice from Glen (godfather) Heyne and, using $200 from a photography job that Kyle had on the side, we printed 500 20-page papers at Kyneton Copy. Somehow, it was a hit. We went from monthly to fortnightly immediately, Lindsay Smith and Nick Bunning joined the team, and we were away.
We now cover the Central Highlands, have award-winning crew members with us, and a distribution of about 13,000 in print and online. Oh, we have just launched a new interactive website – www.tlnews.com.au – where people can upload sports results, news snippets, gigs, and pretty much anything else, including adverts. That’s a whole new world and next up is our podcast.
I have worked on local papers – daily, weekly and in between – for 35 years, but I have never enjoyed a job so much. I can’t even say I go to work. I get to do what I have loved about journalism from day one. Sharing stories, connecting communities and working with a great group of people who love it as much as I do. Blessed!
Enjoy the edition! Roll on the next 200… Donna

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