Business: The Cobar Weekly Association, Cobar
Since operation began in 1986, the Cobar Weekly Association (trading as The Cobar Weekly) has immersed itself in the town’s cultural fabric. Established by a group of community-minded volunteers, the original intention was to create a publication that was Cobar-owned and focused.
This philosophy has continued to guide the business which produces a local newspaper The Cobar Weekly and a biennial tourist and information guide, The dirt on Cobar.
Overseen by a committee of volunteers, the Weekly employs four staff responsible for the day to day business operations and news production which includes accounts, banking and other administration duties. Situated in Marshall St provides them with a central location from which to interact with the public and maintain ongoing close community ties.
As an active member of the community supporting local events, the Weekly’s news remains relevant to Cobar, and recognises the importance of community groups and their stories.
They thrive on keeping content purely local.
“Our news is about local people, local events, local sports.”
One of the advantages of The Cobar Weekly is that staff go out into the community to research and collect news and information and take photos. Some material is also contributed by members of the public, and some information also comes from social media. The staff are skilled in a multitude of areas including news writing, interviewing, photography, graphic design, typesetting, customer service and sales. Their passion for the town is channeled into publications which inform, educate and entertain the community.
Clientele is composed of readers, contributors and advertisers as well as sporting and charity groups, Local, State and Federal Government and advertising agencies.
The Cobar Weekly has a reputation as a credible news source that provides a balanced point of view. Without local television or radio stations, The Weekly is the main source of news and information for the community. Stories can be picked up by media outlets around the world and their social media presence also has global reach, particularly in places where former Cobar residents have now settled, such as Canada.
Since inception, the newspaper has evolved with changes to technology. Originally it was compiled using typewriters, moving to desktop publishing and with printing done in-house. The company has also embraced digital marketing, social media and online publishing and the newspaper is released in both print and online formats each week. The newspaper is compiled each week using various programs.
Although being reliant on advertising and the ebb and flow of the local economy, The Cobar Weekly offers a unique product with purely local content that aims to be all-encompassing. Its strength also lies in the varied skills and talents that staff bring to the production of the paper.
Printing is an area of the business that has the potential for further expansion.
In addition to printing the newspaper, the company is also compiling a quarterly newsletter for a major business, printing booklets for Cobar and Nyngan race meetings, Cobar Show booklet, along with funeral service sheets, invitations, posters, flyers and books.
Currently, 1100 copies of The Cobar Weekly are printed each week and there are 25 digital subscribers. Articles (including breaking news) and photos are also uploaded each week to the website and Facebook.
The Cobar Weekly has received public recognition in the form of four Great Cobar Business awards: for Business Development and Growth (2005), Tourism (2011), best Community-owned business (2012) and Marketing and Innovation (2017).
The success and longevity of the paper can be attributed to the way it is run as a small business, with professional policies and procedures and quality staff.
Facing the challenges of instant news, the newspaper is making better use of multi-media content and aims to strengthen its social media positioning. They’re embracing new technologies to reach readers and to give advertising clients more opportunities to promote their products and services. After 33 years in business, it is hoped to continue for at least 33 more!
Pictured is casual editorial assistant Meredith Broughton, managing editor Sharon Harland, classified advertising Amy Pagett and Tahnee Tomek (sub editor, display advertising and tourism magazine editor).