Not all the scribes are driving buses, as new print papers thrive

When former News Corp editor Michele Sternberg posted alternative definitions for 'newshound' on social media, James Brecknell had other ideas.

To Sternberg's 'journalist, correspondent, reporter, columnist, stringer, newsman, writer, interviewer, announcer, scribe', he added a few of his own.

"Other words for newshound now include (to give some real examples from APN) bus driver, student, radiologist, garden shop owner, retiree, solar panel installer and, in my case, shoe shop owner".

And happily, now, editor.

Sternberg - who is a former editor of News' Noosa News, now digital only - has herself surfaced at the helm of the new Sunny Coast Times, launching August 19 and described as a sister paper to the Hinterland Times magazine owned by Neil and Emily Coningham.

News Corp's withdrawal from the community newspaper business throughout regional Queensland continues to lead to the appearance of new publications and the expansion of existing ones. The Sunny Coast Times - "born out of the need for community news, stories and events in a monthly news magazine and covering Noosa to Caloundra and everything in between" - joins others in pitching to the void created when News' Sunshine Coast Daily ceased appearing as a printed newspaper.

Despite still having to source printing from Australian Community Media's former Fairfax print site, 1000 km away in North Richmond, NSW, Noosa Today is back on form and continues to gain contributors. Latest of these is former Daily editor-in-chief Peter Owen as golf columnist.

At the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, My Weekly Preview magazine is also expanding to fill the community news gap, with another former Noosa News editor, Gail Forrer moving to acting editor while Candice Holznagel takes maternity leave, and joining another former Noosa News recruit Caitlin Zerafa.

Forrer was most recently the group editor of the Seniors Newspaper, another casualty of News Corp's cuts in June.

Noosa shire's 48-year-old non-profit weekly Cooroy Rag - which had been operating on Facebook only since mid-March - is expected back in print shortly.

Further afield, the historic gold town of Gympie expects to have its own newspaper again this week after News stopped printing the daily Gympie Times, which had first appeared in 1867. The newcomer Gympie Today is set for its first appearance this Friday, July 31, and already has a thriving Facebook page.

"Never in the 35 years plus in the business have I seen such an engaged audience," says Phill Le Petit, who is Queensland Sales Manager of the new masthead and of Star News' Noosa Today and (Warwick) Southern Free Times.

Melbourne-headquartered Star is also involved in the two-edition Burnett Today in Kingaroy, where former general manager of South Burnett Times Daniel Pelcl leads a team of three local journalists and four support staff and advertising consultants made redundant with the closure of the News Corp print edition.

Its first editions have made 52 and 48-pages with a print order of 6,200 copies.

The North Burnett News in Gayndah has also been expanded by editor Tiffany Kirk to cover more of the region, according to the ABC. The weekly paper, which has a print run of 1,300, is now up to 20 pages with hopes of further growth.

And in Hervey Bay, where News ceased printing the former APN daily Fraser Coast Chronicle and Hervey Bay Independent, real estate agent Malcolm Quinn has moved to fill the gap with the fortnightly Hervey Bay Advertiser.

The ABC reported that "commercial support is still there" with an 80-page newspaper sold every fortnight for the next six months.

Peter Coleman

Pictured: Jessica McGrath (middle, centre) and members of the Burnett Today team have a printed paper to share; (bottom) Caitlin Zerafa with My Weekly Preview acting editor Gail Forrer (MWP photo)

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