Meta, the owner of Facebook, has been in the news lately for its stance on paying for news.

The federal government in 2021 passed the News Media Bargaining Code under which Meta had agreements with Australian publishers whereby they were reimbursed for the news content they produced.

This was a three year arrangement which is now coming to an end and not to be renewed. Meta clearly does not value the work done by regional and metropolitan newspapers, including local newspapers such as the Gunnedah Times, The Courier and Wee Waa News.

News isn’t produced for free. The North Western Courier publishes five newspapers every week as well as special publications such as the Join In magazine in last week’s issue. The company employs 22 people locally with offices in Gunnedah and Narrabri and supports the local economy.

Producing a newspaper is a very expensive, labour intensive business, that’s the nature of news particularly at a local level. Our journalists are skilled, educated and experienced, engaged with their communities.

A local print newspaper is a key part of the community. For 111 years The Courier has been the voice of the Narrabri Shire and in 2020 the Gunnedah Times was started because the company which formerly serviced that town stopped printing its newspaper.

While the newspapers have the support of many people they are also taken for granted. The Gunnedah Times is part of the fabric of the district, a chronicle of its history. We celebrate success, report on events, keep people informed and entertained. We publish hundreds of photos, with everyone’s name included in the captions. That doesn’t just happen, it’s an involved process and takes a huge effort. Our staff are exemplary in their professionalism and the service they provide to the districts. We take great pride in what we do and are humbled by the responsibility we have to serve the people who make up our wonderful communities.

However, all this comes at a cost. The paper needs the support of readers, to purchase it, whether the printed copy or the online page turner version.

We need businesses to use the paper to advertise.

The paper’s reach and value cannot be under estimated. It is a proven effective platform to get your message out there.

The cost of the paper is $2.50 – can you buy a bottle of water, a cup of coffee or even a packet of chips for that?

Where is this leading?

As well as encouraging people to continue buying the paper and businesses to advertise, the Gunnedah Times will be introducing a paywall to its website –

Virtually every other newspaper has long been charging for content through a paywall. For some time our website has provided news free of charge. In coming months, readers will be asked to subscribe to the website.

There is a free component for a limited amount of stories, however, after that there is a charge.

It is not expensive but will help cover the costs of producing the news and sustaining this service.

In conclusion, thank you to all our loyal readers.

Wanda Dunnet OAM,
Managing director & co-proprietor, North Western Courier Pty.Ltd.

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