Wednesday, June 7, 2023

I had a dream. It changed. And now I have a new dream

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My dream came true.

There are not many times you get to say that in a lifetime.

Richmond River Independent team
First born: Holding the first edition of the Independent when it was delivered to Days Machinery were committee members Graeme Gibson, Meg Bishop, Andrew Johnston and Bob Mills with editor Susanna Freymark in the middle. Photo: contributed.

My dream was to edit an independent newspaper free from the shackles of a corporation. To write news stories that I thought mattered rather than stories that would ‘sell’.

It was a big dream. I had no idea when this paper started out 63 issues ago how crucial the experience of sub-editors Michael Burlace and Kevin McDonald would be.

With their years of knowledge, they led me through a complex pathway on how to be a good editor.

Michael cared about every word I wrote. He talked so much about readability, it has become my own mantra.

Kevin built the paper and gave it a bright, modern feel. He spent hours tweaking the content – making sure the recipe fitted or writing a snappy sports headline. He made the Independent look beautiful.

In those first few months all of us worked into the night to get the paper to you on a Wednesday. It was tough.

And I loved it.

Halfway through the year, we found our rhythm and putting the paper together became easier, although still time consuming.

Now though, my dream has faltered.

Covid has hit the region hard. Our paper relies solely on business advertising. If business is having a tough time, so are we.

Ad staff Alison Martin and Simon Wilkinson tried everything to bring in more money. Each slow week took the paper closer to the edge.

I was mourning its end before it came. When the association’s committee announced a four-issue pause, I couldn’t bear the thought of a vacuum of local news. I know there are other news outlets and ABC news in particular does a great job.

But it was the stories in the quiet forgotten corners and the stories of human fragility and strength that I feared would be missed.

The reporter in me couldn’t bear it.

More so because of these uncertain covid times.

I decided to leave, fearing that the ‘pandemic pause’ of the paper could go on for a long time.

I set up an online news service to carry on doing what I love. Telling your stories. All being well, it goes live at 5pm today. Check out – you can type it in capitals or lower case or a mix. I hope you like it. The NR is for Northern Rivers.

My focus will continue to be on Kyogle and Richmond Valley LGAs and around their edges – where I’ve worked for seven years.

It’s a new adventure. A different dream.

Brene Brown’s words gave me comfort in the moments when I felt I couldn’t do it. “The first time you pull away and find power and strength on your own, you have been marked by the wild.”

My wilderness is the news. It’s where I explore and discover new ways of seeing things and writing about them. It can be a simple story about a fundraising cake stall or reporting on covid or a highway crash.

I won’t be holding the crinkly pages of news every Wednesday. Or wandering up the street seeing people with the paper under their arm.

Instead, I’ll be updating local news every day on the website, sharing the stories through Facebook and Twitter and reaching you in whatever way I can.

Come to and see what it’s all about. Advertise your business and tell others.

The news is free to read because that is what I believe in. Our stories are too important to be forgotten. We are too important. And I mean every one of us.

The stories I tell about you make up a mosaic of the community I’ve grown to love.

Come with me on this new(s) adventure.

Richmond River Independent 29 September 2021

This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 29 September 2021.

Related stories: Paper put on pandemic pause; Meet the Richmond River Independent.


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