Newspaper sales have fallen dramatically around Australia in recent years, and our local Guardian has not been immune to the changes in how we all consume content.
Even though Everything Geraldton may compete in some ways with the Geraldton Guardian, I honestly believe Geraldton is better served if said newspaper continues does well.
Here are some of the reasons I believe you will benefit from buying our local paper.
1. Public notices
They may be the most boring part of the paper, but I think they're the most important.
When a local government WANTS to get the word out about something, they will send a press release or public notice to all media, usually including Everything Geraldton.
I'm grateful for this. EG wants to help locals stay informed about what's happening in their community. Many people who never read the paper, including young people, are now far more connected and informed.
Sometimes the City will even pay Everything Geraldton to promote or publish something. This too is very helpful for us in terms of paying our staff and continuing operating. We think we're pretty good at getting information out to the Geraldton public. And we're super grateful for support from the CGG.
But when the council HAS to put something out to the public, but doesn't necessarily WANT a lot of feedback, I've noticed they just purchase an ad in the public notices section of a paper.
They are legally obligated to do this much of the time.
While I'm sure there's nothing malicious happening behind the scenes, I do believe that for much of the general public, only putting a public notice in a newspaper essentially makes it invisible. I don't think I know anyone under the age of 35 who even buys the paper with any regularity.
Here's a recent example. I've seen no hoo-ha or press release about it, despite it potentially having a massive impact on our city.
There were a number of complaints when the Jaffle Shack opened on the foreshore, saying that others weren't given the opportunity to put a business on the most prime piece of real estate in Geraldton. Now the city can technically say they have given everyone the opportunity. All you had to do was be one of the few people that buy the Guardian twice a week and always checked the public notices section.
In fact, each time there's a public outcry about a decision the city makes, I have heard: "We published a public notice in a newspaper and very few people responded."
So until the laws change to better reflect how people actually get information in 2016, it's incumbent upon us, the general public, to keep an eye on the public notices in our local papers.
The Geraldton Guardian employs a small team of journalists who put effort into chasing up stories.
It's no secret that journalism isn't exactly a growing industry, but it will probably survive for the foreseeable future. Even though it's not the highest paying career, it can lead to other fulfilling professions.
The Geraldton Guardian has a good track record of giving young journalists a start and helping them get their uni degree. I personally know a couple of people who are doing well in other careers now, who started off at the Guardian. Had they not had the support of the local paper in their youth, they may have struggled somewhat more.
3. Geraldton needs multiple media voices
I admit I'm extremely inconsistent when it comes to reading the paper. Or rather, I'm consistently terrible at it.
I will try harder after writing this article.
Three years ago I knew I wanted local content in a digital format, but no-one was going to do it in Geraldton. So instead of complaining, I started a business doing just that. But The goal of Everything Geraldton was not to replace other the media completely, but to be another voice.
I don't think a community is well served if there is only one media voice. If you piss off the wrong person, you can essentially be cut off from having your say.
Fortunately, this isn't the case in Geraldton.
We have Everything Geraldton, which is independant and I'm obviously an advocate for. There's the Geraldton Guardian/Mid West Times, who have been around for 100+ years and are backed by Seven West. There's a talented and creative team over at the ABC, who publish great stuff. And there's a few radio stations.
Having more media publications means a more diverse voice, and fewer newsworthy items are likely to slip through the cracks. It also gives advertisers more choices and opportunities to promote their products and services.
4. Responsible people at the helm
I know a couple of people who work at the Geraldton Guardian in the editorial team, and from what I know of them, I do believe that they care about the people of Geraldton.
It's not very common to have people who care so much about the community in charge of local media. Often the agenda to simply sell more papers at the cost of sensationalising everything wins out over the mandate to serve the community by printing the facts.
Anita Kirkbright is the current editor, and I've dealt with her in other capacities in the past. I've read several of her articles over the last year or two, and she certainly seems to have a desire to surface encouraging stories from the Mid West. It's a refreshing change from the usual negativity that seems to fill our Twitter and Facebook feeds.
That's not to say I agree with every publishing decision the Guardian makes, but for the time being I think it's well above par.
5. It's not too big
I'm pressed for time. I don't sit down and read the paper to alleviate boredom. I know reading the paper was a favourite pastime for our Granddads. But I have a million things to occupy me that are more interesting than a newspaper. And when something big happens I will probably hear about it well before the paper comes out anyway.
So when I do read the local paper, I want to get through it as quickly as possible.
I have listened to complaints for about 8 years now about how thin the Guardian is. But looking at it as someone who mostly reads content online, I consider thinness a positive.
When someone "reads" the paper, they don't actually read very much. You scan through the headlines until something stands out, and you end up reading about 1 and a half articles.
What you leave with is the knowledge that you haven't missed anything important that may affect you, your business, or your family.
And with a world of information now accessible through our smartphones, we don't need our local papers to try and be all things to all people, publishing all manner of lifestyle articles that we may or may not be interested in. They can just give us important local content, and we can follow our particular interests through apps, social media, websites, podcasts, YouTube etc.
In conclusion, my vision of the future of media in Geraldton doesn't involve a winner take all outcome as was the case in the past, but a diverse range of voices, each serving the community and playing a part in our daily lives. I hope the Geraldton Guardian is a part of that future.
Note: No one from the Geraldton Guardian had any involvement with this article.