HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A FABULOUS PAPER
THE biggest surprise about the start of Western Suburbs Weekly was that it happened at all. I was hardly the only one to realise the potential for creating a more definitive statement in the area with a newspaper that related to the aspirations and achievements of its population.
There were various soft and hard sells to management from editorial and sales leadership at News Chronicle, a small paper that was drifting in a highly competitive market.
But it’s one thing to put your case, another to get your way (I’m the WA media section president of the journalists’ union, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, so I know what I’m talking about). Everything moved very quickly after the closure of Perth Weekly. The opportunity was too good to waste and suddenly we were thrust into the process of creating a high-end publication with a community feel. A team of contributors had to be assembled, some who are still with WSW all these years later. There was a certain awe in watching the design and marketing aspects coming together. Is this really happening? What have we done? What will we do once it starts?
Well, there wasn’t really time to think too hard about the latter question. We went from a paper that was often 20 pages to a monster that was regularly four or five times that size. My foundation reporting staff of Simone Considine and Gabrielle Knowles were straining to gather all the stories and contacts in their repertoire from growing up in the area. As a graduate of John XXIII College and UWA I knew the locale but not the way those young women did.
Of course, the Perth Weekly connection meant there was a big emphasis on those centre social pages and my former classmate Anthony von Leonhardi guarded the look and style of his pages with great passion.
Five years proved plenty for me at the helm, but as a Community Newspaper Group sub-editor it’s pleasing to watch the tradition continue. The paper has evolved and improved, with Denise S. Cahill well and truly established in the editor’s chair. But many elements of that original template remain.
It suggests we’ve struck a connection with the western suburbs community and why change a winning formula. Happy birthday, Western
Suburbs Weekly. I hope to be around for a few more yet.