‘Particularly emotional time for older, traditional readers’

ON THURSDAY, 17th June, 2027 Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis acknowledged regional newspapers in his private member's statement to NSW Parliament. In particular, he paid tribute to his electorate's newspapers The Daily Examiner, Coastal Views and Richmond River Express Examiner, which will print their last editions on June 27, 2020 after NewsCorp Australia announced it would convert most of its regional mastheads to digital-only.

I RISE in this House to acknowledge and pay tribute to regional newspapers in my electorate who will unfortunately cease printing in the coming days following a decision by their owners, Newscorp to transition to a digital-only news platform.

The end of the print editions of The Daily Examiner, its smaller sister weekly paper Coastal Vie ws, and the weekly edition of the Richmond River Express Examiner (little sister to The Northern Star who is also going digital), was met with much sadness by many in the community.

For decades these mastheads have delivered news and become a familiar face to communities across the Clarence and Richmond Valleys, the areas which I represent.

It is disappointing and perhaps short-sighted that the corporate owners have pulled the plug at a time when the region is growing and becoming more prosperous despite the coronavirus crisis.

The Daily Examiner has been a fearless fighter for the Clarence Valley since its inception as the Clarence and Richmond Examiner in 1859.

Ironically the man who founded it, Clark Irving, was a politician and served in this House as the Member for Clarence from 1856-1864.

The DEX as locals know it, has a proud 161-year-old legacy and lays claim to the oldest continuous regional masthead in Australia.

Currently under the editorship of Bill North, the DEX has been known over the years for its public campaigns, notably for a second Grafton bridge, an ambulance station and health clinic in Yamba, a speed camera at Ulmarra and improvements to the Pacific Highway, all of which the Nationals have been able to convince the Government to deliver, in no small measure because of the newspaper's loud and bold influence.

It also ran a strong campaign in 2012 against the downsizing of the Grafton Jail, led by editor at the time Jenna Cairney. Fast forward to this day and we'll see Australia's largest prison officially open next Thursday thanks to a $700m investment by the NSW Government delivering 600 jobs and a $560 boost to the regional economy.

The DEX has had long associations with many Clarence Valley businesses and community organisations that go back decades - the July Racing Carnival and Jacaranda Festival events, just two the newspaper has supported for almost a century.

And for a first in mainstream media, it published two editions of an all-indigenous masthead edition "The Deadly Examiner" celebrating the Clarence Valley's three indigenous nations during Reconciliation Week.

One of the masthead's longest serving writers, Lesley Apps, who is leaving the DEX after 27 years service, described the news in a recent column as 'melancholy times' in the history of the masthead.

Lesley went on to to say "The Daily Examiner is more than a business. It was a friend, and sometimes a foe, to many in the community, a product that also served as a record of life in the Clarence. It was the familiar face that greeted you almost every day around workplaces, cafes and breakfast tables and will be a particularly emotional time for the older, traditional readers who love their routines and way of life, to find out there's a big change coming that will affect that routine."

She is right. 27th June will certainly be a melancholy day as the final print edition of the DEX hits the news stands and front lawns. It was a trusted news source that readers looked forward to picking up each day. It will be the end of an era as, like it or not, we move towards a digital platform in a fast-paced world.

I also regret the demise of the Richmond River Express Examiner, a weekly, small-town community newspaper which has provided vital home delivered news to so many families across the Richmond Valley and Kyogle regions for almost 150 years.

Founded in 1870 under the masthead of The Richmond River Express and Tweed Advertiser, it was Casino's first daily newspaper.

After surviving a few name changes, a fire that destroyed the printing plant and a merger, it found its place in 1978 as a weekly masthead and has remained the Richmond River Express Examiner ever since.

The newspaper is all about its community, which regional newspapers should be, and that has certainly been a trademark of current editor Susanna Freymark and former editors Samantha Elley and Janelle McLennan who both served in that role during my time as the local MP.

Covering a small footprint of readers, they developed an extra special bond with the community primarily covering the local government areas of the Richmond Valley and Kyogle.

I know these communities will miss their weekly dose of local, community-driven news when the last edition hits the stands next Wednesday, 24 June.

In closing, I want to take the opportunity to extend to all those employees who have lost their jobs as a result of this decision my gratitude and that of the community for their passion and loyal service over many years and extend to them my best wishes for what the next chapter in their life might bring.