5 myths about The Northern Star we want to bust
WHENEVER I'm asked where I work and I tell people it's The Northern Star, there's almost always instant brand recognition.
Having been around for 144 years, Northern Rivers residents have certainly heard about, read, been photographed, been in, worked, or know someone who has worked at The Star.
But there are many common myths, or misconceptions, about The Northern Star and here are a selection of them that have cropped up in my 13 years with the 'paper'.
1. I thought The Northern Star closed:
Surprisingly, when we ceased printing the daily, and its sister weekly papers, at the end of June, closed our office, and made the switch to digital only, people assumed we ceased to exist altogether.
We still have one of the biggest newsrooms north of Newcastle (even though we all work from home during COVID-19) and pretty much operate our websites 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Unlike some of our other local competitors, we work nights when there is a council meeting, we go into courts and cover them, we roster people on weekends when there is sport and other events to write about and we don't take time off over summer.
2: You expect us to pay for news?
Yes. People have been paying for The Northern Star from the first day it was printed on May 13, 1876.
We've been a subscription business for that whole time and it should come as no surprise that we charge a small fee for the work we do.
Revenue from advertising has been diminishing over the years; it's one of the reasons putting out the print edition became no longer viable.
Much of the advertising revenue has been hoovered up by Google and Facebook, who, last time I checked don't employ any journalists on the Northern Rivers.
We are not free, but we charge next to nothing.
The current deal for an online subscription is $1 a week for the first 12 weeks. Find out more at www.northernstar.com.au
3: My online subscription gives me the right to share things on social media:
No it doesn't. Your subscription is for you and those you choose to show on your tablet or device in your own home or workplace.
It doesn't give you the right to cut and paste an article a journalist has exerted blood, sweat and tears to produce and then share on Facebook or some other social media platform.
Remember, Facebook, Google and Twitter don't employ journalists on the Northern Rivers, but The Northern Star does.
Cutting and pasting our stories not only contravenes copyright and intellectual property rights and the terms readers of our website sign up for, it also severely undermines our revenue source so we can pay journalists to cover the things that matter like fires, floods, court, council meetings, big developments, accidents and events.
4: Your audience must have gone down:
Our audience in the digital space is growing and quite impressive.
The website is currently averaging over 80,000 unique visitors each week and close to 260,000 page views.
We are closing in on 4000 paying subscribers and that is growing rapidly each week.
That's a big audience when you consider the population of the Northern Rivers is around 150,000.
5: Does Rupert Murdoch tell you what to write?
No. I haven't heard from Rupert Murdoch once in my career, nor any member of the APN hierarchy before then, or over the length of my journalism career, from any member of the Packer family, Fairfax family or Kerry Stokes either.
Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists out there, but as a journalist and editor, no one has ever told me what to write and the journalists employed at The Northern Star are free thinkers, who all come from diverse backgrounds.
They are encouraged to write what they want as long as it factual, balanced and fair and bound by the journalists' code of ethics, which I often implore employees to read if they are in any doubt about which direction to take.