FREE STORY: Haters gonna hate, but we still love youse all
LIFE AS I KNOW IT
THE Daily Examiner turns 160 next year. Not a bad innings for a Clarence Valley business. You would be hard up finding another with that kind of longevity or a company name as recognisable in these parts.
The same year as the Examiner was first published so too were the "laws of the game'' for Australian Rules Football. Overseas, ground was broken to begin construction of the Suez Canal and Napoleon III was celebrating victory against Austria. Back at home, Queensland was declared a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859 and the seeds of interstate hatred were sown (cane toads didn't arrive until 1935 in case you were wondering).
So the DEX, as we're often called among the other less flattering terms - Daily Exaggerator/Three Minutes Silence/local rag/chip wrapper/Daily Exterminator et al - is a bit of of an institution.
The masthead has developed a thick skin after more than a century and a half of going about the business of reporting local news.
Even insults have their place in a relationship that has seen generations of readers pass through its pages. The staff here now are just the current caretakers of this news-gathering institution.
Beside turning a profit, the DEX is a business that has also served as a voluminous journal of life in the Clarence Valley. A continuously running record of the highs and lows, ins and outs, the events that changed and shaped us, and, most importantly of all, the people who made and make up its community, the good, the bad and the extraordinary.
As far as businesses go, that could be considered a noble pursuit.
So here we are a year out from another milestone in the masthead's long haul in what is the most challenging time for a business in the game of producing local news. Of course ironically this is not new news but it doesn't hurt pointing out what this means from a grassroots perspective rather than a flow chart.
Having a daily paid print edition in a place like the Clarence Valley is pretty unique. Thanks to those who still love the tactile approach and curated editions served up by the local team we are still one of the longest continuously published mastheads in the country. Woot, woot!
The contemporary face of the DEX is its online presence. Seeing new and long-time readers make the transition to reading their news online is a beautiful thing, especially if they understand the concept of paying for it. Much like the print edition has done since the 19th century, digital subscriptions too come at a price in order to produce it.
Most businesses that provide a service or goods require some kind of monetary exchange. Otherwise they won't last one week let alone 8320 of them.
And it's rare a customer will walk into a store here in the Clarence (or anywhere) and demand something they are selling but refuse to pay for it. I think the police would probably get a phone call if this was to occur too often.
The DEX still offers some of its goods and services for free which is not common practice within many business models, but we understand our business is different. Of course that generosity stops when paid employees are required to provide this content as opposed to volunteers, which many people seem to think we also are.
Businesses not funded by taxpayers or a generous benefactor can't survive without charging their customers something.
So it can get tiresome having folk who want the services and benefits of having a local daily newspaper in their community but also happily chant back to us how they will never pay to read anything or support anything we are selling. Mmmm, this doesn't add up on many levels.
Somewhere in the food chain, money is required to send journalists out to report on things. The model may vary from business to business, but they all rely on servicing the people who want to know what's happening in their community, country or world. If you don't then fair enough.
It's not pity sought by pointing out the consequences of this phenomenon, it's just plain ol' perspective.
That having a local news service doesn't come for free (you pay for the ABC too, albeit less directly).
Unless you are willing to jump in your car and find out yourself what that siren means or who won that competition or what someone else thought of something you are interested in, then it's a community link or service lost for good.
It's a service that really transcends its business model but needs it to survive.
Sure there are other platforms coming and going and a sea of information out there but it's hard to beat 160 years of localised experience of telling the stories of the Clarence Valley, under a masthead that the community should feel proud to have had in their patch for longer than most people can remember.