After two years, a new chapter begins for Murray Bridge News
This news service has opened an office on Sixth Street, and that's not the only respect in which it's continuing to grow.
Murray Bridge News has celebrated its second birthday in style with the opening of an office on Sixth Street.
Anyone with a local story to tell is invited to drop into number 16, opposite Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, for a chat or a cuppa.
The move was made possible by support from subscribers and grants from the Facebook Australian News Fund, administered by the Walkley Foundation, and US web platform Substack’s Substack Local program.
About two dozen people attended a low-key opening event on Wednesday morning, including Mayor Brenton Lewis and media executive Simon Crerar.
Mr Lewis offered his congratulations on this news service’s growth, and credited me for putting in the effort to cover so many local stories.
“We see you on Sunday afternoons, we see you on Monday nights, we see you on a Wednesday afternoon, we see you many times when you could quite easily be curled up at home with the family,” he said.
“I know how attached you are to your children, yet you’re out there on the pavement, out there looking for stories.
“It takes effort, it takes energy and commitment.”
Mr Crerar, a former founding editor of Buzzfeed Australia whose mentorship has been invaluable over the past 18 months, was kind enough to describe me as a “poster child” among a generation of regional media entrepreneurs.
“The work that Peri does is about connecting your community, about celebrating your community, about bringing people together,” he said.
“People might not realise that that’s what newspapers did … (they play) this invisible glue role, and when it’s gone it can be really terrible for communities.
“There’s more people who need to know about Murray Bridge News, so keep on telling people about it, keep on recommending it and supporting it in any way you can.”
How is Murray Bridge News going, anyway?
Two years after launching Murray Bridge News, I think it’s fair to suggest that it has become the leading local news source in the Murraylands.
Published, by my count, 1387 local stories
Reached a weekly email circulation of almost 2500
Won support from almost 600 paying subscribers
It has trialled the use of a digital screen at Murray Bridge Marketplace to distribute news, has now opened an office, and will soon hire a second journalist.
Reader support has brought me here; sponsors’ support will help us grow
Having an office will, I hope, show our community that Murray Bridge News is here to stay; and having an offsider will allow me to work at a more sustainable pace.
The trick now, of course, will be making the dollars add up once the grant funding runs out.
I am still optimistic about continuing to grow Murray Bridge News’ paid subscriber base.
Last year, University of Canberra researchers found that 13 per cent of Australians paid for online news, and about 25 per cent expressed a willingness to do so; and there are 25,000 people in Murray Bridge News’ readership area.
Murray Bridge News will also be able to host advertising from local clients once again after the Substack deal expires at the end of May.
In the coming months, I’ll be looking to develop meaningful relationships with organisations which have an interest in making our region a more positive place, somewhere local people know what’s going on and newcomers can be made to feel that they are part of the community.
People ask me about print.
I love printed newspapers, and I think there’s demand here; but I also know how expensive they are to produce, and the price of the paper they’re printed on is forecast to go up by as much as 80 per cent this year.
I will have some new, exclusive rewards to offer Murray Bridge News’ most generous subscribers in the next few weeks
But for now, as always: thank you, reader, for supporting your local.