The Press works late, but newsmedia have left the building

See in there if you like, a metaphor for the newsmedia industry: A wine bar and music venue remains as the only connection to what was once the grand headquarters of Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader.

The name remains on the 1925 building, which has had a $1 million facelift under private ownership, and an extra floor, while the paper's offices moved around the corner to rented accommodation in 2016.

Down in the basement - where a succession of printing machines were once housed until the print site was relocated, most recently to a site near the airport - a wine bar called The Press played host to star acts during the Tamworth Country Music Festival last week.

Time was when much of the festival - which claims to be Australia's biggest music event - radiated from the Leader's former home on the corner of Brisbane and Marius Streets. Progressively, the publisher gained the monthly (Country Music) Capital News magazine, rights to the annual StarMaker talent competition and other major and heavily-sponsored events.

When other media companies were still looking at events as a lucrative diversification, then owner Fairfax Media unloaded its publishing connections with country and the festival to the local council in 2017, with managing editor John Sommerlad leaving to run them as director of Destination Tamworth.

When Nine Entertainment took over Fairfax in 2018, the rest of its events business was sold, and the Leader and other regional newspapers unloaded to Antony Catalano's Australian Community Media.

A free guide to the festival was a platform for Leader advertising last week, not least because its pages of gig information were immeasurably more reliable than the council's $4.50 app, when of course, it should have been the other way around.

A pavement plaque in Brisbane Street marks the entry to The Press, an evening venue with some quality acts on its playlist, not least upcoming duo Montgomery Church (pictured at another venue).

It seemed appropriate however for a former daily newspaper building, that nothing much was happening there until after 3pm.

Peter Coleman

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