PLEASE find my contribution to the “Feed the Chook” campaign. Symbolically it represents $2 for every copy of the paper I loved and worked on for 30 years, from the first edition in 1989 till 2019.
I am enormously proud of the newspaper we all created for our readers, the unheard people we gave voices to, the artists, thinkers, causes we gave support to, the festivals and events we promoted, the advertising we created to generate income for our businesses, the stories we broke, the “uniques” like Sudhir and Angie and all the time the Herald kept its ethics, its cheeky sense of fun, its creative character and its drive for quality – all having to be accomplished on a shoestring!
With controversial stories and limited resources we always copped criticism but we also received a lot of LOVE. I can’t imagine how different Fremantle and surrounds might be if the Herald had not been on the beat, questioning, delving, Thinking Allowed.
I used to chuckle when people accused us of sensationalism “to sell papers”. But I also have to remind all readers that the Herald isn’t a “ free” newspaper.
In my time as advertising director when at our height we were printing and distributing to over 120,000 letterboxes weekly, every paper cost about $1, a cost wholly borne by our advertisers. The papers were slim (but good!) and every week the ad reps and I would scramble to raise the revenue to get the papers funded, production and editorial would beaver to produce the content and lay it out, distribution queens Marie King and Stephanie Campbell would do logistic magic to ensure close to every letterbox was covered. The Herald and Perth Voice is a big and expensive operation!
There were always more stories than we could squeeze into our advertising funded, “free” newspaper and so one year chief chook Andrew Smith decided to produce a second midweek $2 edition called The Rooster with three times the content, beautiful white paper, big photos and all the things we would have loved to have in the Herald but couldn’t afford or fit, and offer it all for $2, half the cost of a cup of coffee. The Rooster didn’t fly despite all our best efforts but it’s a model which has become more common today: asking people to contribute towards something they consume or care about.
That modest $2 a week or $100 a year contribution would keep the Herald full and strong for all of us. During the Rooster period a well-known foodie who’d invested in bottled water to compete with San Pellegrino said to me at a lunch, “Why would people pay for something they can get for free?”
I extolled the enormous dedication of our journos, the unique local perspectives we could offer, the quality of the product, all met with
his bemused raised eyebrow. It was only on my way home I thought of the perfect comeback, “Why would anyone pay for your water when they can get it out of the tap?”
Well, the Herald is much more than bubbly water or tap water so I urge all you readers who love the paper to think of feeding the Chook.
To you wonderful advertisers: keep on booking more ads and thank you for the 33 years you’ve been backing us. To governments, corporates and organisations: realise that the Herald and Perth Voice offer absolutely the best means to reach people in our geographical areas – take a little out of your PR budget and put it into advertising to keep our local ecosystem healthy.
Finally to Andrew Smith, partner Pip and all the wonderful past and present Herald staffers: Thank you for the incredible work you all do (or did) EVERY week to bring us our chook.
Lots of love