APN’s Toowoomba print centre saved James Clark's relationship, but that's not the way the 'Warrego Watchman' proprietor tells it (writes Peter Coleman).
For the benefit of the locals, he notes on the Watchman website that a large corporation now prints the paper... "in lurid colour", at that.
The production upgrade came when the 1960s Polygraph web press at the paper's Cunnamulla, Queensland, office "threw a tantrum" last year, prompting a switch to contract printing. And in tonight's ABC Australian Story yarn, wife and partner Josephine Birch discloses that the press problem came just in time.
Clark says a mysterious mark appeared down the middle of the front page, prompting him to give up local production. But he manages to fire up the East German graphic arts relic for the benefit of film-maker Gerald Tooth, and run a few copies through its folder, reliving the moment when called ‘time’.
It’s a delightful story, not hindered by the charming Josephine Birch, who Clark met in Paris and wooed in eloquent emailed prose.
On their website at warregowatchman.com.au, Clark and Birch (pictured) tell how they allowed a couple of independent film makers to record the growing pains of the “reborn” independent southwest Queensland newspaper, which Clark describes as a “beacon of individuality jutting out of the mediocre mire of corporatised local newspapers”.
The resulting documentary aired on ABC tonight at 8pm and is available on its iView ‘catch-up’ service.
Somewhat with tongue in cheek, Clark “bet the best bits have hit the cutting room floor.
“It will probably be embarrassing, they’ll take the wrong tack, put their spin on it, twist it around, tug at the emotions… this is what happens when you talk to the media.”
Quite the contrary, it presents the romance of the bush in a manner which will revive for many, the attraction of regional journalism.
Established in 1884 as the ‘Cunnamulla Express’, the paper had the ‘Warrego Watchman’ as one of a succession of names and reverted to it in 2009. The offices are about 11 hours west of the GXpress office, but we reckon the trip might be rewarding.
• View the documentary on the ABC website.