THE West Australian Newspapers-owned Mandurah Telegraph will publish for the last time on Wednesday March 26 as part of plans to decentralise sub-editing functions and cut costs. In all, eight positions will be lost.
In a move designed to make best use of WAN’s presence in the market, the Telegraph will merge with the Mandurah Coastal Times, another publication in the group’s stable.
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance State secretary Michael Sinclair-Jones said South West Times general manager Trish Seeney had informed him there would be eight redundancies in the group, including four sub-editors at Bunbury.
The same decentralisation process recently occurred at the Albany Advertiser.
One locally based journalist position will be lost when WAN’s Margaret River office closes. A part-time sports writer’s position is being cut in Busselton.
On the bright side, one new reporter’s position will be created in Manjimup.
Mr Sinclair-Jones said the alliance would be watching WAN to ensure that employees were paid all over-time owed to them.
“The company will be asked to explain how it expects significantly fewer journalists to complete essentially the same work-load and whether journalists in Mandurah and Busselton will be paid higher wages to match the higher skills required to lay out and sub-edit pages for production,” he said.
Last week Mrs Seeney said the merger would not bring any major changes.
“We have merged two publications on the market and moved from Tuesday to Wednesday,” she said. “By joining the strength of the two papers we are in a significantly better position to achieve our objectives.”
The merger continues WAN’s rationalisation moves. Last year the York Chronicle, with more than 100 years of history, was closed down. WAN had owned the paper for three years.
But working amid the ongoing closure of regional publications are the Friends of Battye Library, who aim to preserve the historical content of the State’s regional papers. The group received a grant of nearly $170,000 from the Lotteries Commission to micro-film major WA regional news-papers from pre-Federation to 1905.
The project, known as ‘Access to early WA regional newspapers: Pre-Federation to 1905’, has been completed in a partnership with the State Library.
The newspapers came from the Battye Library’s collection of more than 1,000 Western Australian newspaper titles, from the hand-written newspapers of the 1830s to the current day.
The survival of the archives was at risk due to the poor quality of newsprint and its extremely high acid content, which accelerates deterioration.
The project has enabled 272 reels of microfilm to be produced.
Some of the newspapers have become well-established regional newspapers, with more than 100 years of continuous publication, such as the Kalgoorlie Miner and the Albany Advertiser.
Other regional newspapers now on file were published in Bunbury, Coolgardie, Geraldton, Pilbara, York and Perth.
Communities in regional areas will have access to significant local newspapers through the microfilm sets being distributed to regional libraries.
Culture and the Arts minister Sheila McHale said preserving these newspapers was important.“Newspapers document the cultural, social and sporting life of the community and are significant research sources for historians, genealogists, writers and students among others,” she said.