Local independent newspaper editor Lucie Peart is just weeks away from having her second baby.

Key points:

  • Lucie Peart took over the Gilgandra Weekly at the age of 27
  • The Gilgandra Weekly and Nyngan Weekly publisher is about to add a third masthead in Narromine
  • New research shows there is still an appetite for local printed newspapers

But that hasn’t slowed the young entrepreneur down.

She’s about to launch a third newspaper masthead in the Central West town of Narromine.

“I guess just timing is one of those issues that we’re contending with at the moment, but we’ve got a structure in place with the partnership with the Dubbo Photo News so we’re working together to move forward in the next six to eight weeks.”

At the age of 27, Ms Peart bought the Gilgandra Weekly. 

The local news paper was established in 1911.

man, woman and child in a field of wheat with blue sky and clouds above

Lucie Peart moved to Curban, near Gilgandra, with her husband in 2013 and took over the Gilgandra Weekly in 2016.(

Supplied: Amber Creative for Gilgandra Region

)

Last year regional newspaper publisher Australian Community Media suspended dozens of non-daily titles and closed multiple printing presses.

Print editions were moved online.

But Ms Peart saw an opportunity to grow her business model. 

In October, she launched a new paper in Nyngan and in August hopes to see the first edition of a new paper in Narromine roll off the printer. 

“The COVID year has created some opportunities there for independent papers to to expand,” she said.

“I feel that the independent sector is more visible than we’ve ever been and that’s because we can continue to play to our strengths that we have in local communities, which is the fact that we’re local, we live here, we employ local people and that we understand our communities, whereas perhaps bigger corporate companies sort of lost that over time.”

Close up image of a fanned selection of newspapers

Many local newspapers have ceased or have moved online over the past few years.(

ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce

)

Appetite still there for local newspapers

Ms Peart says since launching the Nyngan Weekly last year, getting people back in the habit of buying their local paper has become a challenge. 

Last month researchers from Deakin and RMIT universities, with the support of Country Press Australia, released the results of a study into local media.

Nearly 4,200 Australians were surveyed.

The research found there was continued strong demand and passion for the printed product in rural and regional Australia.

It also found the majority of audiences preferred a printed newspaper over other news sources, with younger generations also part of the trend.

Ms Peart is also the Country Press NSW president.

“Something like 80 per cent of respondents to that survey said they don’t visit local council websites,” she said.

“That’s an extremely important tool that has been lost in a lot of communities where we know that the populations aren’t engaging directly with council on that sort of level so they need that conduit of the local paper.”

Local media entrepreneur brings newspapers back to the bush
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