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Hawkesbury Gazette to close after 135 years

Jul 28, 2023

Michael Sainsbury

One of the Sydney basin’s oldest newspapers, the Hawkesbury Gazette, has been the latest victim of the ongoing collapse of regional mastheads across the country and has ceased publication after 135 years.

It is understood that the decision was made at least a month ago by the publications owner Australian Community Media who bought the publications from Fairfax Media ( now Nine Entertainment).  The Gazette commenced publication as the Windsor and Richmond Gazette in 1888 by John Charles Lucas Fitzpatrick and continued until 1982, when the name was changed to the Hawkesbury Gazette.

READ THE HISTORY OF THE HAWKESBURY GAZETTE HERE:

https://www.hawkesburygazette.com.au/story/8278248/our-proud-history-in-print/?fbclid=IwAR2IKNYXiFq4QVEmBVyuRsuftmRK7Hm-W_mVEMAapO7v1tH0G883lcxq5P0

“There is no easy way for me to say this, so I’ll keep it simple … this is the final article of your Hawkesbury Gazette newspaper,” the publication’s editor Matt Lawrence said on the Gazette’s Facebook page.

After 135 years the Hawkesbury Gazette calls it a day.

Like all newspapers, the Gazette’s business model has been decimated by the rise and rise of the internet where foreign multinationals, who pay little tax in Australia such as Google and Meta – the owner for Facebook and Instagram have sucked up retail advertising dollars. Other sites like Domain, Realestate.com.au and carsite have taken the so-called “rivers of gold” away from publishers.

“As has been the case in many suburban pockets of western Sydney, the traditional newspaper model has become increasingly harder to sustain in our region over recent years,” Lawrence said.

“There are numerous factors behind this, including the rise of online advertising options and dramatic increases in printing costs. Add to the equation the turbulence created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately the maths no longer adds up,” he said.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that a newspaper that has such a rich history disappeared. I have worked with Gazette’s journalists since 2010 and know some incredible reporters who have put their heart and soul into covering a vast array of issues. As a journalist myself, I hate to see any loss of diversity in the media and while we lost the Courier during COVID; the Gazette will be even more missed by people.”

Hawkesbury City Council Mayor Sarah McMahon, who said she did an internship at the paper as she studied communications in 2003, bid a fond farewell in her final column for the publications.

“Sadly, in this new era of digital advancement and financial pressure, the Hawkesbury Gazette will close its doors. It makes me immensely upset to know that our beloved paper will not be published as of next week,” Cr McMahon wrote.

In this environment media proprietors across the world have been forced to cut staff leaving editors with few resources to properly cover local news.

“This is, unfortunately, a sign of the times but the local communities need local news now, more than ever,” Samantha Magnusson, co-publisher of the Hawkesbury Post said.

“There is nothing more important than illuminating how and why decisions are made at all levels of government – and who is benefiting from those decisions. We are seeing more and more, governments attacking the media and attempting to undermine their role to hold those in power to account.

“Good local papers really are the community’s voice and effectively a digital town square. Ultimately these papers are here to serve the community. It’s always a loss when any publication closes especially one that has served this community for so long and we wish our fellow journalists well.

“Yet the Hawkesbury Post remains hopeful. What we have seen since relaunching with a determination to provide quality news is a huge jump in readership making us one of the most read local publications in the state according to internet monitors. We will continue to provide the Hawkesbury with a genuine news service that reports without fear or favour,” Ms Magnusson said.

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