Newsletters published by local volunteers thrive in regional and rural areas as local newspapers decline
In a year where a global pandemic stopped the world, many local stories have gone under the radar in the turbulent news cycle.
- Many regional communities in WA rely on locally-produced newsletters to find out about events, news and sport
- These publications are all that remain for areas where bigger organisations have shut up shop
- The State Library of WA archives local newsletters and newspapers to ensure WA’s history is preserved
In Western Australia, there are now fewer than 30 regional newspapers, with several mastheads, including the Avon Valley Advocate, Esperance Express and the Bunbury and Collie Mail, being mothballed this year.
But there are still some volunteers making sure local news, events and sporting results are made public knowledge, in the form of the local newsletter.
In Northampton, around 465 kilometres from Perth, Margaret Meagher and a small team of volunteers produce the Northampton News.
The newsletter has been keeping the community informed since 1976.
“It’s just getting the news out there to those who cannot get local news,” she said.
In Gingin, the Community Resource Centre is responsible for producing the Gingin Buzz, which, like the Northampton News, has its finger on the local pulse.
This year, Gingin’s local paper, the Avon Valley Advocate, was disbanded by Australian Community Media, leaving a gap in local reporting.
Editor Roslyn Christensen said it was important people in small, regional communities are kept informed about what is happening.
“People come in here at the end of one month and the beginning of another and they’re looking for that publication,” she said.
Newsletters document history
Local newsletters are so important that the State Library of WA collects each one published from around the state to store in its archive.
The State Library is home to WA’s Legal Deposit, which is a statutory provision requiring publishers to deposit copies of their publications to its nominated institute.
But SLWA Senior Subject Specialist, John Hughes, said not only is it legally important newsletters are archived, but also to preserve WA’s history.
“The role of the State Library is to tell Western Australia’s unique and diverse stories,” he said.
“I think community newsletters really developed when people were reflecting on towns or settlements and trying to preserve them in some way.
“The history is really interesting.”
He said the State Library has collections of newsletters dating back to the 1960s, while its newspaper collection can be dated to the 1830s.