The business’s directors only told staff they were closing The Border Watch, along with its sister papers The South Eastern Times at Millicent and The Penola Pennant, two days earlier. By the weekend, the 159-year-old masthead was no more.
Make no mistake, the closure of these regional papers will have a massive impact on the Mt Gambier and wider South Eastern communities. Anyone who thinks they will just get their news online for this region now is kidding themself. Some ABC reports, a regular magazine, and random people on social media will be able to share a small percentage of the local happenings. But the amount of news pumped out by the Border Watch, SE Times and Pennant — totalling six papers weekly, packed with professional journalism — will not come close to being replaced. That is, of course, unless a new paper starts in its place.
In a tough year for the Australian newspaper industry, with roughly 200 regional titles folding or going on hiatus, the Border Watch closure has been the most shocking of all. This paper won the Country Press SA best newspaper award for the past two years. We were honoured to win in the two years before that, and it almost seemed unfair The Border Watch had since dominated. It was so big; how could other papers compete? Unfortunately, that top-quality product did not translate to a profitable business.
Thankfully at the Yorke Peninsula Country Times it’s far from doom and gloom. We remain well supported by our readers and advertisers, which means locals do not have to miss out on the news most important to them. It is plain to see what can happen if that support dries up, so we thank you all for helping keep your local news service running strong. Rest assured, we’re working hard to repay the faith.