Local papers are under serious threat. Lack of advertising and competition from alternative news sources are taking their toll. The local rag where I live is the Blue Mountains Gazette, a free publication delivered to every home. This infuriates people who don’t want to read it, but warms the heart of those who do…..like me. Yes, it’s available on-line, but reading it via a screen is not the same as turning the pages on a sunny garden seat.
I gave up buying major newspapers long ago, which is shameful to admit since I used to write for them. However, a local paper is a different creature altogether.
That protective plastic sleeve it comes in is necessary in our climate, but hardly good for the environment. Fortunately, residents are very creative in recycling it. Apparently the number one use is for picking up dog poo! Others use the bags for keeping herbs fresh in the fridge, slipping spare shoes into when travelling, protecting fruit from wildlife… etc etc.
HAVE YOUR SAY IN THE GAZETTE
Soon after we moved to Blackheath the Gazette published a letter from a woman which began: ‘Would the sick bastard who stole my wheelie bin please return it!’ Such outrage over a minor theft gave me confidence that my new home would be relatively crime free.
More often the letters page is a forum for robust political debate. Since there is no avenue for immediate response, the bullying that occurs on the community Facebook site is pretty well absent.
The classified advertisements section of the paper is also worth reading if you have a few spare moments. The following, is the most eccentric example I have come across;
Pure gold (15) rings to ward off evil and be blessed. Selling for $220 each. Worth $1000’s. If anyone interested in any furniture that they would like to pick up, $20-30. Pool fence $120 and dismantling of pool. Anything else that takes the fancy. Also wanting a large dog for free if possible. Hopefully a husky. Please drop off. Yellow Rock. Also electrical items. Oh my hat! I’d love to know whether he or she got a free husky.
We are a fairly ‘arty’ society and the Gazette is generous in promoting the work of residents. When my non-fiction Book The Water Doctor’s Daughters was published I was interviewed at length and photographed in the grounds of the art deco Carrington Hotel. I have to say that when the article appeared I could barely recognize the book, which oddly enough was presented as a novel. Never mind, any publicity is better than none…. or so they say.
I guess some people might label mountains folk as a little ‘out there’. Apparently this reputation is of long standing. I was taken aback when the Gazette advertised the following event;
The Belgravia forms part of the recently restored Hydro Majestic Hotel, just down the road at Medlow Bath. The bigamy and bonking are not nearly as surprising as the mention of businesswomen.
Every paper worth its salt runs a political cartoon. My only criticism is that the Gazette’s examples are rather lacking in wit, but the parking problems in the tourist hot-spot of Leura was a notable exception;
Above all, The Gazette can highlight a problem and produce a result when all else fails. Here is an example; an issue I’d been battling with for nearly three years. A tree had grown up in a sink-hole at the local duck pond, surrounded by ugly safety fencing. The tree was a couple of metres tall by the time it was finally removed by council. Even then the hole itself remained, until reporter Jennie Curtin ran a story;
The hole was repaired within a week. Excellent!
Long may the local rag live, chronicling the highs and lows of our community and reporting local victories over the powers that be.