THE GAZETTE has been dealing with some difficult issues recently.
Because these have been made public, the Manager (Joanne Eisemann) and Editor (Elizabeth Douglass) have chosen to respond publicly.
The Gazette has found it necessary to review the ways in which representatives of the newspaper interact with the people, organisations and businesses they are dealing with.
This review was initiated by a temporary breakdown in communications with Meander Valley Council. The relationship between the Gazette and Meander Valley Council required some clarification on both sides.
Both the Gazette and Council now consider the breakdown to be repaired. The manager and editor of the Gazette have met with the council, and will continue to meet with the council, to make sure that lines of communication remain open.
The Gazette had hoped to resolve this issue quickly and quietly.
However, contrary to what we had expected, our conversations with the council and subsequent internal discussions were made public through Facebook posts, the circulation of emails, and the usual progression of social media and rumour.
Despite social media commentary not always being an accurate reflection of real events, it became very clear, very quickly, that the Gazette has many passionate supporters in the Meander Valley community.
We deeply appreciate the level of concern that has been expressed about our economic viability and editorial independence. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has contacted us in the last month for their interest and offers of assistance.
It also became clear that there is confusion about our ongoing relationship with the Council and whether they make any financial contributions to us. The Gazette’s editorial integrity and our commitment to fair and unbiased reporting have also been questioned.
To make our independent status completely clear, we are sharing the following information about the Gazette.
We are a not-for-profit, independent paper covering news and events across the Meander Valley municipality with approximately 20 000 readers.
Gazette revenue mainly comes from the sale of advertising space that pays for part-time production and editorial staff, printing, delivery and other running costs.
Meander Valley Connect Inc. is the organisation that supervises and advises the Gazette as well as the Online Centres at Mole Creek and Deloraine.
Committee members of MVConnect Inc. are drawn from volunteer workers for all three organisations and the Gazette shares office space and some staff with the Deloraine Online Access Centre.
The Gazette receives no funding from the Meander Valley Council, Tasmanian State or Federal governments.
The Gazette has no obligations, financially or editorially, to the Tasmanian Education Department or Libraries Tasmania.
Sponsorships from local businesses supply additional funding.
Our relationship with Meander Valley Council also seems to require explanation.
The Council pays for a double spread in the Gazette every month. This allows the Council to regularly inform ratepayers about council activities without needing to print and distribute a separate publication. The council is solely responsible for the content and appearance of these pages.
The Gazette is always willing to engage with anyone who chooses to advertise with the Gazette, contribute stories and photos, or just read the paper. We expect that anyone should come directly to the manager or editor with any concerns they may have about the content of the paper or if they feel that they have a right to reply.
This includes Council management, the Mayor and individual councillors, because, as one of the largest ‘businesses’ in the valley, Council affairs are often the main topic of many stories.
It is extremely important for the Gazette to maintain a good relationship and clear communication channels with the Council. As with all who make up the ‘subjects’ of our stories, the Gazette tries to ensure that our reporting remains balanced.
Hearing from all parties concerned is the only way we are able to gather and cross check information, and cover all aspects of a particular story.
We can assure readers that we remain financially independent and strive to be impartial. We try to make balanced and careful judgements about what we publish.
Good communication is the essence of what we try to achieve every month.
As long as our readers find us relevant and we can continue to generate sufficient income to produce the paper each month, the Gazette is proud to keep making a contribution to the Meander Valley community and is grateful for the affection and interest that is returned.