Celebrating 150 years!
How the Good Times Rolled
Well over 100 people gathered at Maldon’s Machinery Museum in Vincents Road on Sunday to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the publication of the Tarrangower Times.
They were welcomed by the cheerful music of the Maldon Brass Band. Champagne flowed, a giant cake was cut with a slice for everyone, fine catering kept the crowd warm and souvenir bottles of wine were distributed. The Editor announced publisher Craig Wilson had presented cheques for $1000 to the Machinery Museum and $500 to the Brass Band as a gesture of support for the Maldon community.
A special feature was the working display of the refurbished linotype and flat-bed press printing details of the Times history. This feature will continue at the Machinery Museum.
Minister supports The Times and the town
Guest of Honour at the function, State Police Minister Bob Cameron, member for Bendigo West, strongly supported the views of both publisher Craig Wilson and Editor, Ian Dawes, in relation to the importance of country papers in small towns.
He said they were fundamental in generating support for local groups, businesses and volunteers who could sometimes struggle without public input. He also drew attention to the importance to a local commuity in having a focal point such as a brass band as a rallying point for town functions and events. He congratulated the Tarrangower Times on its 150th anniversary.
150 Years Of News At The Tarrangower Times
Ian Dawes, Editor (2007 - 2008)
As we gather to celebrate our 150th Anniversary as one of Australia’s oldest newspapers in Australia’s Most Notable Town, the history of the world’s enormous newspaper industry is encapsulated right here in Maldon ranging from the earliest process of inserting letters, usually made of wood, by hand, to be stamped on a sheet of paper by a screw down press and progressing through to the amazing linotype machine and flat-bed press, both of which you can see working here today.
“All of it is living history and all of it is real life Maldon.”
Ron Adams, one of our earlier editors who is here with us, among several former Tarrangower Times editors, saw the end of the old hot lead method of newspaper production in 1994. About that time production moved to the more modern paste-up off-set method.
From there we progressed almost straight through to the modern age and revolutionary computer. Add the computer to the internet and you have today’s method of producing the Tarrangower Times.
But for the running story of our history over the years you have only to look around you here now, see the machines, read the paste-ups to learn our story of survival in the history of fights, floods, fires and fun that brought us to the present.
All of it is living history and all of it is real life Maldon.
But now we come to something else…changes more drastic than anything the news media has faced before. Changes in the past may have been revolutionary, but they remained within the realm in which the media was familiar. All the changes we have faced do not end when we turn 150, and change does not stop. It goes on and is called history.
So now we find that the media world it has taken us 150 years to grow comfortable with, is going through startling changes.. some good…many bad.. Newspapers are being dragged beyond their comfort zone from being NEWS papers to being multimedia practitioners.
I want you to think of the broad media field, as it goes well beyond the TT, although we can play a major part in it. Newspapers have been taken over by number crunchers. News is now blatantly created and manipulated by spin doctors - commercial giants and advertising agencies are setting the pace.
Your metropolitan daily has become a pop magazine and the so-called ‘quality’ papers are losing their individuality and quality. News is no longer news unless it carries a ‘message’. Today’s 24 hour news cycle is demanding and fast paced, so the earlier checks and balances no longer apply. Today’s newsroom is full of people waiting for their mobiles to ring and the caller is usually a PR hack. Newsrooms should be empty and reporters should be pounding the streets.
Journalists don’t do cadetships any more. They come straight from universities or TAFE colleges often without any practical experience. Our papers are filling up with idle chatter, foreign stories, celebrity drivel, finessed photographs and enormous irrelevant advertisements.
A lot of this results from newspapers’ chase for profits, advertising agencies asserting commercial control and big business and politics exerting greater power and influence.
Where will it end? My belief is that it won’t. It will go on and there will be spin-offs. Serious news seekers are today searching for relevant news on the internet, but that too is being finessed. The whole scene will morph into something entirely different.
But in the meantime, consider this – papers like the Times have survived as ‘news’ papers because that is what we have provided to our readers. Others are failing because they no longer provide this news but rather what the advertisers and often politicians want to give them. There is room for both. But news must remain news and separate.
So here is some good news. While the major city newspapers fail and change and try to find their role in the new media world, the small provincial press like the Tarrangower Times can strengthen their positions.
There will always be a demand for news. So the future could fall into the laps of the small newspaper operators if they stick to their last and provide the hard news the others are ignoring in favour of soft news. We might just be the viable alternative.
Those who have gone before have shown us the way. They had the skills, the wit and determination to get us to where we are today. We have to show we were worth the effort. We are worth the effort. We have to show we can provide the news as they did.
That’s my message. And my serious contribution to today’s events.
Now let me pay my respects to Craig Wilson, our proprietor, for keeping the Times fires burning over the past five or so years. Craig’s constant and strong support of Maldon and his team has been one of the main driving forces behind the survival of the Times. This is exemplified by his generous contributions to the Maldon Museum and Archives of $1000 and $500 to the Brass Band - as well as hosting this event today.
“...The paper needs you and we hope you will continue to need us for as long as we are the custodians of Maldon’s historic Tarrangower Times.”
to Maldon Museum and Archives for allowing us to use their Machinery Museum for this function today and for the support of their machinery guru Roger Palmer. And while we are talking about the Museum we must mention the magnificent contribution made by Lesley Burgoyne and Caroline Woolmer in producing two substantial TT indexes which provide superb research material for genealogists and others. You will see these on display here today.
Also Maldon Brass Band and their leader Denis Cox, a one time TT man. Thank you for providing such an entertaining musical background for us today.
To Frank and Joan Cresswell our hawk eyed proof readers. Joan joins with Athenaeum Library Director Joy Leneaux-Gale in providing the weekly book column and we thank them both most sincerely for their steadfast support to us.
And now, especially, thanks must go to our graphic designer extraordinaire Karen Sloan, without whose classic graphic skills the TT would look like a simple stapled newsletter.
Then our reporter – photographer, Val Evans with her invaluable born and bred knowledge of Maldon’s idiosyncratic ways and good humoured approach to local gossip.
And finally, the Tarrangower Times would not appear with such regularity if it were not for our editorial manager, my wife Fran, whose concentration and attention to detail is the real reason the Times comes out each week.
And you will hear later from Museum Committee man Peter Thompson, about the enormous local support that has enabled the working display awaiting you in the machinery shed below.
Thank you all for coming today . The paper needs you and we hope you will continue to need us for as long as we are the custodians of Maldon’s historic Tarrangower Times.
OUR TIME AT THE TT
Geoff and Nancy Hammond
It happened one evening at the Royal Wine Bar that I suggested to Nancy we should make an offer to purchase the TT from Chris and Tracey Oakes. Early in April, 2002, they accepted our offer. Because Nancy was Manager of the Visitor Information Centre during that time, it was left to me, mainly, to learn in a few weeks how to run and produce a local weekly newspaper. I had spent most of my working life in the academic field so was confident in my ability to put words together, edit and use a computer. I learned soon enough that there was so much more to it than that. Chris kindly gave me initial tuition and was willing to continue to print the paper as part of his on-going printing business. But there were many things to be organised and learned before the first edition in May, when we would be on our own. I had never run a business before.
Rooms were rented at the Regional Enterprise Centre, near the Bendigo Community Bank and the Visitor Information Centre. REC staff were extremely helpful in encouraging us to set our goals and in teaching me to set up and use the accounting program Mind Your Own Business. I had to learn fundamentals such as banking, balancing the books, reviewing the rates for ads and subscriptions and how to print and send out accounts – all elementary stuff to people in business, but not to me. Nancy’s organisational skills were extremely useful in all of this. Perhaps the major aspect of my learning curve was mastering, in some small way, newspaper layout and photo manipulation. In terms of equipment this required the purchase of new computers, digital cameras and a large printer to enable us to print out proofs for editing.
A friend, Bill Taylor, spent many hours teaching me the essentials of the two crucial computer programs for layout, Pagemaker and Photoshop. To me they were a revelation and addictive. One could spend hours playing around with placement of items, headlines and enhancing photographs. But there was another side to producing a newspaper which we hadn’t really considered until May, when we had assumed full responsibility for its production - DEADLINES. They are unrelenting. No more playing around with aesthetic effects. One had to get the stories, the ads the overall layout in place by a certain time each week, come what may, because there was still a long way to go before the paper could be put to bed. Final proofs had to be printed and delivered to the proof readers (in our case, Frank Creswell and Nancy), corrections made and the whole thing sent in PDF format to the printer by a specific time to enable the completed paper to be handed to Graeme and Barbara at the Newsagents the evening before delivery and sale. We also had other helpers, including Geoff Allen, our cartoonist, Karin Weiner, who did a lot of the typing and Ian Hammond who organised the dispatch of papers to subscribers. The papers Ian sent out went to many parts of Australia and some overseas countries. Our first edition in May, 2002, covered, among other things, a rainy ANZAC day march and ceremony (which had to be held in the Community Hall), letters from Coral O’Hara and Skreitch and a detailed story of the seniors footy team being beaten by 11 points by Campbell’s Creek. Our last edition in mid-December, 2003, included a major warning about brown snakes, letters by Coral O’Hara and Arch Martin and the seniors cricket team beating Campbell’s Creek. During the almost two years we produced the paper we had exciting stories involving gun shots, helicopters and dog squads at the Rock of Ages and dull weeks when the town and surrounding areas seemed to go to sleep. There were times when we contemplated making our own news by dancing naked in Main Street, but sensibly realised that this would have aroused very little interest and, at our age, would not have been all that attractive.
During our time, we strongly encouraged voluntary contributions by readers to strengthen the feeling that it was a community paper. We also promoted all the town’s sporting activities, sponsored football prizes and supported the establishment of the new sport of Pétanque. Because it is a relatively small country newspaper we thought it would be a part time interest. But part time it certainly wasn’t. In addition to the mechanics of producing the paper each week largely by oneself (seeking stories, taking photographs, doing layout) there were always the accounts. When Nancy found me asleep at my desk after 10 o’clock one Friday night we both thought that, perhaps we were getting a little too old for it. We felt that our time running the TT was absolutely absorbing and, in a strange way, a privilege to be able to be so involved in many of the events that cause this town to exist. The thing that we miss most is the constant contact with the people of Maldon, their stories and the day-to-day things they are involved in.