QCPA cans conference after state grab, as membership hits record

Queensland Country Press Association has been forced to cancel next month's annual conference just as its membership is at "unprecedented" levels.

The event at the Mercure Brisbane from October 16-17 was to have been a get-together for new and existing members including 27 News Corp digital mastheads which have joined in a first for the association.

But president Phil Le Petit told GXpress the conference had had to be cancelled after the venue was requisitioned as a "government mandated hotel". There are no plans for a new venue or virtual event.

Recent weeks have seen the emergence of 15 new print publications in communities in which News Corp had ceased printed editions - mostly former APN mastheads - in late June, and a further three are expected to start within the next month. Titles range from weekly to fortnightly and monthly, printed on newsprint and glossy stocks in a range of sizes including tabloid, American tabloid and A4.

The collaborative group of Today newspapers continues to grow, with CQ Today - edited by David Richardson - launching in Rockhampton last Friday with a 72-page edition, and Bundaberg Today set to launch on September 11.

Other titles under the Today brand - some of which, along with the Southern Free Times in Warwick, are owned by Pakenham (VIC) headquartered Star News Group - are in Noosa, Gympie, Kingaroy (South Burnett Today) and Gayndah (Central & North Burnett Today).

QCPA secretary Greg Watson says other new print edition "independent" members to have recently joined include: Beaudesert Bulletin, Highlands Leader (Emerald), Rural Leader (Emerald and Longreach), Sunny Coast Times (Sunshine Coast), Western Downs Town & Country (Dalby), The Everton Echo, Hervey Bay Advertiser, Cairns Local News, MyCity Logan and Burdekin Local News.

Watson says joining the 27 online News Corp mastheads as Online Publishers Members is a "first" for the 112 year-old Country Press Association. "This includes some of the former regional dallies, including the Sunshine Coast Daily and Rockhampton Morning Bulletin - and I'm one of a few members who can recall when the regional dailies were members of Country Press Associations before starting RDA.

"The six titles in News' northern NSW group and the Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs) have been joined as well."

Six existing publications have also joined the QCPA recently, although the association has lost News Corp Regional members which closed and integrated into neighbouring online mastheads - Hervey Bay Independent, Balonne Beacon at St George, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express at Ingham, Innisfail Advocate and Central Telegraph at Biloela.

"With the addition of new publications starting, the membership list of 64 mastheads now gives QCPA unprecedented coverage of regional Queensland, and we hope more leverage in our quest for State Government support," he says.

The News Corp Regional Online Members are: Bowen Independent, Bundaberg News-Mail, Central & North Burnett Times, Central Queensland Times, Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs), Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gatton Star, Gladstone Observer, Gympie Times, Mackay Daily News, Noosa News, Queensland Times (Ipswich), Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, South Burnett News, Stanthorpe Border Post, Sunshine Coast Daily, The Western Star, Warwick Daily News, Western Times, Whitsunday Times and Whitsunday Coast Guardian.

Northern NSW online mastheads joining QCPA are: Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star.

Watson is hoping four Regional Sections in either the Cairns Post or Townsville Bulletin will also confirm membership. They are Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette, Burdekin Advocate, Atherton Tablelander and Northern Miner.

Pictured: Requisitioned: QCPA has been told the Mercure Brisbane is no longer available for next month's conference

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