The Port Macquarie News celebrated a massive milestone in 2022 - 140 years of being in operation.
While the format of the news and how it's produced has changed dramatically over that time, our team still strives to uphold the masthead's values of distributing news which is fair, accurate, timely, balanced, ethical and in the public's best interest.
On July 8, 1882 Alfred Edward Pountney published the first issue of the Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate.
At the time of the Port Macquarie News' first edition in 1882 there was no local government, no tourist industry, no clubs, no theatres, no electricity and no motor cars.
Charles Uptin became the owner of the newspaper in December 1945, before his sons Keith and Alan joined him as staff members.
In the 1982 special edition of the paper, to celebrate and acknowledge the milestone, the then managing director Keith Uptin (Charles' son) wrote "times change, people change, and while there is no relationship whatever to the method of production of the News from 1882 and today, the fundamental principles remain."
"Principles of independence; attitudes that it is your paper, not ours; freedom of expression for all...," Keith wrote.
"Not an attitude of publish and be damned but publication without fear nor prejudice."
Sadly Keith passed away in 2021. Keith Uptin OAM spent his life in Port Macquarie and is regarded among many as a man who was always the first to extend a helping hand.
Keith's brother Alan still lives in Port Macquarie.
In the 1980s the brothers grew the publication's circulation and readership, in what Keith described as the 'boom times' for Port Macquarie.
The centenary edition of the Port Macquarie News was launched by the then Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, J.D. Anthony.
Mr Anthony said the masthead championed the causes and interests of country people and it reported their triumphs, and their disasters.
Mr Anthony emphasised the paper provided vital news and information, a constant flow of opinion and a vital forum for discussion.
More recently, our paper, which is owned by Australian Community Media, has helped provide timely information to the community in crises such as the 2019/2020 bushfires, the March 2021 floods and the coronavirus pandemic which continue to have flow-on impacts for our community.
Having a digital focus has worked to our advantage in certain circumstances, such as when the bushfires and floods were on and we were able to publish information across a live blog.
The use of this technology gave people firsthand information from the emergency services about how the events were unfolding.
The Port Macquarie News won the Masthead of the Year Award at the 2021 Australian Community Media Awards for its extensive coverage of the March 2021 floods.
The Port Macquarie News' award-winning website features original multimedia stories from across the region.
Port Macquarie resident and Australian Community Media employee Janine Graham started working at the Port Macquarie News in 1997.
She wore many hats throughout her time at the masthead, including working as a news journalist, sports journalist, chief of staff and as editor.
Prior to being employed at the Port News, Janine's background included working for metropolitan publications such as The Australian and Australian Financial Review Magazine in Sydney.
She said those publications didn't have the same "community vibe" as the regional masthead of the Port News.
Janine said it was normal to get "bailed up" at the shops if someone wasn't happy with a headline.
However, she said that happens because news in regional areas makes a big difference to its readers.
Janine credited the Port News with being an important part of the community.
She said if an issue created discussion, then that meant the journalists were doing their jobs.
Peter Gleeson started working for the Port News on May 30, 1989, as a photographer. He remained at the masthead for 27 years.
"Those were the black and white days, when there was a dark room and it was all prints," he said.
Pete remembers being called out of the surf and phoning Laurie Barber (former Port News editor) with 20 cents from a pay phone to land the job, after another photographer quit.
He learnt a lot from other colleagues on the job.
"You're always learning," he said.
Pete said the switch to digital in the early 2000s made the production of photography easier.
As a bonus - he was no longer required to breathe in the strong chemicals used to create the prints.
Pete worked with about 60 journalists and nine editors over the 27 years he worked at the masthead.
He said it's special to photograph children at school and then again years later when they've been employed in their first job.
"It's always rewarding to see where they go," he said.
Pete said over 140 years the Port News has grown with the community.
"It is a trusted source because it's still going," he said.
Over the past 20 years Port Macquarie Museum curator Debbie Sommers has relied on the Port Macquarie News publications to conduct her research.
She said unlike other mastheads, the Port Macquarie News has always focused on telling the personal and community issues, which covered people, places and events.
Debbie said the Port Macquarie News' photography is also a fantastic legacy.
The Port Macquarie Museum often posts up old Port Macquarie News photos on social media, which people comment on to recall their own memories sparked by the image.
Port News editor Sue Stephenson said the most important question a reporter can ask is 'how does this story affect my readers", which is why the very best journalism comes from knowing your community.
"The Port News has had that connection for 140 years and I feel privileged to lead a team of reporters who remain committed to channelling your voice and echoing the Hastings' heartbeat for years to come," she said.
"We enter our 141st year with plans to move to a brand new location and with a determination to serve our loyal print readers, while also growing our already strong digital audience to reflect the sophistication of a town on the cusp of being a city."
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