LAST month, Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth, gave the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
It has been a pretty tough year for the Murdochs and, as usual, Elisabeth wasn’t backward in coming forward.
She told the audience that media organisations’ pursuit of profits as the be-all and end-all was wrong.
She said profit without purpose was a recipe for disaster. And she was right.
When the Bendigo Weekly began on July 4, 1997, it was set up with more than profit in mind.
We wanted to keep everything local.
We wanted local ownership, with the purpose of benefitting, economically, the local community.
We also wanted to help the local real estate industry. The Weekly was partly set up because agents felt they weren’t getting a good enough deal.
That changed overnight, and we were able to give our real estate shareholders and clients a climate they could grow in.
The continued success of the local real estate industry is proof of the success of our purpose in that regard.
Through the phenomenal foresight of people like Daryl McClure, Steve Carter and Keith Sutherland, the Weekly was an instant success.
Daryl, as general manager and editor for years, had a simple motto, a purpose if you will.
He believed the Weekly and its staff were there to offer a service to Bendigo.
Whether it be those doing real estate write-ups, those writing news stories, or those helping local businesses grow by working with them to advertise, we are here to help.
It was that purpose that led to the three men making another big call, this one in late 2005.
They believed there was a hole in the Bendigo news market. They believed, again with astonishing foresight, the city was not being represented as well as it should be in terms of the coverage of news.
They believed a newspaper’s job was not just to connect with the community, but also to fight for it.
They wanted to see a media organisation do the sort of things the Weekly went on to do in the years since – fight for water security, push for a bigger, better hospital and create transparency in council major projects.
Not many people know how bad the water crisis was in 2006.
Without the Weekly, and the water pipeline it fought for, the city would have run out of water two summers in a row.
Without the Weekly the State Government’s board appointments policy could still have been far from transparent.
Without the Weekly, and its push for a bigger, better hospital, a redevelopment may still be years away, and it may not have been as good as was needed.
Without the Weekly we would still not know how much the Hargreaves Mall redevelopment cost, and council staff may not have been as vigilant as they are now to make things transparent and open.
We believed then, and do now, profit is our servant, not our master, and purpose is our priority.
With the Bendigo newspaper market shrinking in recent times, we believe there has never been a more important time for the community to be both listened to and fought for.
We believe there has never been a more important time for the type of news that only the Bendigo Weekly can deliver.
The three wise men of 15 years ago were right then, and they are right now.
There have been no more important stories in Bendigo in the past 15 years than those mentioned above.
When Daryl, Steve and Keith decided to expand the news section in 2005, they almost tripled the importance of the Weekly to Bendigo.
It is up to me, and the current Weekly staff, to keep that going.
Elisabeth Murdoch believes her staff live to connect to its audience, and we believe that is our job, too.
Bendigo is changing and we want to help to continue to deliver the news that matters to you, and you want us to cover.
While readership figures show we are doing a good job – we still have more readers than any other local paper – we simply want to do it better.
As part of this, we believe in letting you, our readers, have a say. We want to know what you think.
Please fill out the survey on the opposite page and online by clicking on this story.
Our job is to continue the great work of Daryl, Steve and Keith, in connecting with the community.
In the words of Elisabeth Murdoch, that is what we wake up for.