REAL AUSTRALIA

Don't be a 'forgotten Australian' - support the local news you trust

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM executive editor James Joyce.

If you've clicked to read this, we have three things to say to you:

1) Clearly, you have excellent taste. Never in doubt. Love your work.

b) How good are short lists? I know, right? The best!

iii) Thank you for your support.

Whether you are reading this at one of Australian Community Media's local websites or in our daily free newsletter, your interest in exploring news and views from the bits of this majestic-but-alarmingly-moist-free land that aren't Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane is important to us.

LOCAL VOICES: Australian Community Media's stable of 14 daily newspapers includes The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, The Examiner in Launceston and Bendigo Advertiser.

LOCAL VOICES: Australian Community Media's stable of 14 daily newspapers includes The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, The Examiner in Launceston and Bendigo Advertiser.

In a jiffy, we will present for your consideration some compelling journalism and incisive commentary that we're pretty proud of this week - storytelling that digs a bit deeper, that asks a bit more, that goes beyond the written word.

This is work that would not be possible without you. By reading - and *cough* signing up as a subscriber at one of our network's many fine and welcoming internet establishments - you are helping us tell the stories you won't find anywhere else and produce the journalism that communities around regional Australia depend on to keep them informed and connected.

Antony Catalano, our new co-owner here at ACM, has made some public comments this past week about the future of regional media.

The man has at least 115 million reasons to care.

At a media industry conference in Sydney on Thursday he said the federal government should relax ownership rules to allow consolidation between regional print and radio operators and struggling TV broadcasters like Prime Media and WIN.

He happily name-checked Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack as sympathetic to the challenges - as you would hope and expect a former editor of Wagga Wagga's Daily Advertiser to be.

And he even appeared to invoke a ScoMo-ism, warning that, without strong support for the trusted local media that gives them a voice, regional Australians risk becoming "the forgotten Australians".

Perhaps Mr Catalano's most emphatic statement about his ambitions for the future of regional media came on Friday in the form of a deal with the owners of the Bendigo Weekly to merge their free newspaper into ACM's paid daily, the Bendigo Advertiser.

RICH HISTORY: The Bendigo Advertiser from September 1855.

RICH HISTORY: The Bendigo Advertiser from September 1855.

The Bendigo merger is Mr Catalano's first strategic move since taking control of ACM on July 1. Partnering with Alex Waislitz and his ASX-listed Thorney Investment Group, the ex-Fairfax Media executive and Domain CEO bought the former Fairfax regional publishing division from Nine Entertainment for $115million following last year's Nine-Fairfax merger.

"We've acted quickly and decisively because we know that Bendigo's two most trusted sources of local news and advertising will be much stronger together," he said.

Bendigo and the Bendigo Advertiser go way back, of course. The Addy, as the locals fondly call it, was founded on the goldfields 166 years ago. Some 500 copies of the first edition of the single-sheet "Bendigo Advertiser and Sandhurst Commercial Courier" were printed on December 9, 1853.

Over the past year the Addy and 40 other ACM news sites around the country have introduced digital subscriptions and asked online readers to support their local news source by becoming subscribers.

At a time when international digital platforms like Google and Facebook are hoovering up the advertising dollars that might otherwise be helping pay for Australian journalism, the response of regional audiences signing up as subscribers for the news they can trust online has been encouraging.

And it's the support of our growing army of digital subscribers and long-standing newspaper-buyers that has helped us bring you two of this week's most compelling pieces of storytelling by the ACM editorial team.

Shut-up-and-take-my-money-worthy storytelling, we reckon.

First, cartoonist David Pope's deeply felt, hauntingly drawn comment on the sentiment at the heart of Friday's Climate Strike.

David Pope's editorial cartoon of Friday September 20, 2019.

David Pope's editorial cartoon of Friday September 20, 2019.

No. Words. Required.

The full gallery of David Pope's daily cartoons is here.

Yes, you have to be a Canberra Times digital subscriber to see David's cartoons. But membership has many privileges, including a nightly email revealing David's unique take on the day's events before the cartoon is published in the newspaper.

And our second highlight of the week, journalist Carla Hildebrandt's true-crime podcast, Annette: Cold Case Unlocked, about a 40-year mystery and a forgotten victim, Western Australian teenager Annette Deverell, whose family deserves the truth.

PODCAST: Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt, above. Search for it in your favourite podcast app.

PODCAST: Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt, above. Search for it in your favourite podcast app.

The first episode of the four-part series, The Skeleton in the Forest, was played almost 10,000 times in its first week and reached No. 1 in Apple Podcast's Australian Top Charts for news content.

The second episode, Who Was Annette Deverell?, dropped this week, and delves deeper into the suspicions and secrets of Annette and her former high school friends in their small seaside town.

For more about Annette, and to listen to episodes 1 and 2, click here.

Thanks again for reading. Please show your support by forwarding the Voice of Real Australia newsletter to a friend. Better still, subscribe if you enjoy reading articles like the ones below.

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