Ten years ago I bought a monthly newspaper in a historic seaside town and instantly became its self-appointed editor, subeditor, reporter, photographer and ad sales rep.
My partner, who has worked in the newspaper industry all his life, creates the ads and does the layout.
We work short hours from home with plenty of beach or surfing time, take our breaks on the deck overlooking Swan Bay, walk to most assignments and take holidays in between editions.
My introduction to the world of a regional newspaper editor came in the form of an indignant caller berating me about my first ever front page article about dredging the bay, the damage it would cause due to cloud plumes, its impact on fishing charters and tourism.
I asked if there was anything in the paper he enjoyed, invited him to write a letter to the editor and parted friends.
I’ve been upended in Port Phillip Bay trialling a ‘pup’ sailing boat, covered the annual Couta Boat Race aboard an ocean going yacht and a simple wooden boat owned by an ancestor of one of the towns earliest fishing families while my partner flew overhead in a Tiger Moth taking photos that we couldn’t use due to the camera being newer than he was at aerial photography.
We initiated Benito’s Treasure Hunt, burying dubloons in the sand with funds going to the local Sea Scouts.
When a bridal party turned up waving their council approved permit where ‘X marked their spot’ in the sand, it was sword and permit waving, pirate kids and scout leader Benito fending off the groom, best man, page boys and flower girls – the stuff of legends!
I’ve had to reassure one woman that I wouldn’t write about her very public affair or that she had decked her lover’s wife in the fruit shop; refuse a very vocal local’s offer of a regular column, albeit free, giving his perspective on council matters and anything else he didn’t like around town.
I’ve met and interviewed celebrities, had ringside seats at the music festival, attended 150th Anniversary celebrations of the local cricket club and the Queenscliff Fort arriving home bagless, cameraless and shoeless in the early hours of the morning.
Council meetings, obituaries, local theatre, fundraisers, sports clubs, men’s sheds, community volunteering, what type of tree to plant on nature strips – it adds up to a lot of morning teas and sausage sizzles but that’s where you get the best leads.
Ten years, 120 editions, some great people, some great stories, some dramas – not my doing! But overall it’s been a decade of pleasure living and working in a historic seaside village where owning a newspaper has taken me into peoples’ lives, homes and businesses; issues – some popular, some not, events and celebrations.
If you’re looking for a sea change with an income and a surf beach nearby, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write your own future can be yours.
Statement from New Matilda editor Chris Graham
Advertorials are a new thing for New Matilda – they're our way of supporting the people and businesses who support New Matilda. We'll always clearly mark advertorials, and we'll always try and make the copy relevant and lively. And we hope where readers can, they will try and support the folk who keep New Matilda online (and yes, if I had the cash, I'd buy the Queenscliffe Herald tomorrow, and semi-retire!).
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