Having fought to maintain deliveries of metro and national titles, the outback town of Longreach is to get its 98-year-old local newspaper back.
The Longreach Leader – which will celebrate its centenary in 2023 – will reappear in print early next month after being acquired by independently-owned Today News Group.
It ceased publication in October after former owner the Longreach Printing Company said it was unsustainable, with advertising revenue continually shrinking and the company losing money weekly.
Director Damian Morgan is confident the paper can make money, and has upped the cover price from $2 to $3 a week. “We wouldn't do it if we thought we were going to lose money," he said.
Today , a group of independent publishers linked to Victoria’s Star News Group, has revived eight newspapers across regional Queensland in the last year – including Rockhampton, Gladstone and Bundaberg – and has acquired News Corp’s Manugraph-equipped print centre to produce them.
Morgan says reviving the Leader was a big responsibility, given the important role it played in the local community. “That's something we take on with a sense of privilege and pride.”
In September, a group of newsagents led by Longreach’s Rob Luck took on the costs of trucking newspapers such as the Courier Mail to the region after News Corp said it would stop delivering to some parts of the state because of the "unsustainably high” cost of distribution.
Newsagents in Longreach, Winton, Barcaldine and Middlemount are reported to be paying freight company Daly Transport $7 a day to ensure deliveries.
Longreach is an eight-hour drive from Mackay and the Pacific coast, and almost 13 hours from Brisbane. It is also home to a heritage-listed aircraft hangar, built by Qantas – which started in Winton – the year before the Leader launched, in 1922.
Pictured: The Longreach Leader team at the Queensland Country Press awards in 2016, (from left) Linda Tait, Tania Hunt, Noni Rutherford, Helen Barrett, Leonie Reynolds and Sam Rutherford