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11 August, 2021

110 years of the Gilgandra Weekly

In 1911, the failed Castlereagh Liberal newspaper was purchased by A.E. Perkins, who began the paper which is now known as The Gilgandra Weekly.

By Emily Middleton

The front page as it was almost exactly 104 years ago today. Published on Friday, August 3, 1917.

That is 110 years of dedicated service from journalists, printers and editors who have reported the local news, achievements, losses, celebrations, and tragedies to the residents of the Gilgandra district and beyond.

When sifting through the thousands upon thousands of copies of The Gilgandra Weekly, one front page story was especially attention-grabbing. It was from May 17, 1923. Mr T.M. Shakespeare, the secretary of NSW Country Press Association at the time, was congratulating the promoters of ''The Bulletin," a new paper that was being published in Blackheath, Blue Mountains.

Mr Shakespeare spoke of the importance of country newspapers, and their significance in the bigger scheme of things. He spoke of their consistency of being misunderstood, especially when compared to their metropolitan counterparts. Mr Shakespeare also mentioned that more than 230 country papers were circulating at that time.

Today, there are over 500 regional newspapers in Australia, proving the significance of print media. The Gilgandra Weekly has been with you, through drought, fire, floods, war and world pandemics.

Mr Shakespeare’s 1923 message regarding the responsibility of locals newspapers in serving rather than dictating, is just as valid today as it was then:

A local paper should be regarded by all as a local institution – the central exchange of thought, the becoming light of progress, the one medium that can give articulate expression to feelings of joy and sorrow, of praise and rebuke, of achievement and failure, which make up the lives and work of all striving the live and leave this world better than they found it.

At one period of our history, the launching of a newspaper was regarded as a matter of passing interest, as primarily, a local industry established for the benefit of the promoters, or the advance some political personal or other sectional interest. Happily, that day is past.

For the organisation required to formulate, the costliness of modern plant to produce, the staggering and continuous expense involved to maintain, combined with the unremitting vigilance, care, and specialisation, and required to supervise a public organ of today, necessitates that at shall be broad based on the peoples will, and seek to serve rather than dictate; to encourage rather than censure.

In no other way can it become that power for good that it should be, nor gain the general support so necessary for the successful discharge of its functions. The public will reserve to itself the right to judge the merits of the production and the bone fides and ability of the promoters as to whether these ideals are attainable and act accordingly. Today there are 235 ordinary papers seeking to serve their country outside the big metropolis of Sydney.

The grand local and national work these papers are achieving is often unappreciated or belittled by comparison with larger productions in the metropolitan. Still, it is to the country press, and it alone, that the country must look to work out the great problems that surround decentralisation, settlement, production, industry, and rural prosperity. It is the one medium that understands and appreciates the difficulties of developing a hinterland larger than France and richer than Mesopotamia.

It is the one fount of hope that reaches the producer’s home; producing community thought, and, in days of difficulty, heartens the producer to persevere with the hard let in the sure and certain hope the reward with follow industry.

But every citizen should remember that a local paper is his concern. It is his own pigeon! On him depends its power to achieve and help his centre along.


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