WHAT'S all this about a Council newspaper we hear you ask? It's a good question and one that came as a bit of a surprise to us here at The Queanbeyan Age.
The first time the public got an idea that Council was considering it was when the agenda for this week's Council meeting went up online last week.
Queanbeyan residents then would have read about it in The Canberra Times on Wednesday, detailing the fact that Council was considering withdrawing advertising from local papers TheChronicle and The Queanbeyan Age to publish its own newspaper.
A report to councillors promoted it as a cost saving venture - although the cost was roughly the same as its current communication strategy - and also noted the increased reach of mailing directly to 21,000 local households. How many of those households would read such a publication is difficult to verify, but it's definitely one way to expand communication to the wide range of ratepayers in Queanbeyan.
Canberra breakfast radio on 2CC also picked up the issue on Wednesday and Thursday morning and attempted to make head or tail of it, coming up with neither.
We're not sure how much else we can add to this issue. Ultimately, it's up to council staff and our elected councillors to decide how best to allocate ratepayers' money. They voted it down seven votes to three on Wednesday night, with some councillors citing concerns that running a newspaper was outside Council's core business (however Mayor Tim Overall and Cr Toni McLennan countered by saying engaging with ratepayers was very much part of Council's core business.)
We feel the need to reassure readers in the wake of this that we're very much committed to remaining at the centre of the community conversation here in Queanbeyan, as we have done since 1860.
There's no doubt that it's tough times for newspapers. That's been the case for over a decade now since free, online news started becoming a major force. And print is still not through the worst of it.
Nevertheless, we're committed to continuing to report - frankly and fearlessly- on the news that comes out of this vibrant community- the triumphs and challenges alike.
Our thanks to those members of the community who expressed their support for the role we play in Queanbeyan life over the last week.
We're planning on keeping it up for many years to come.