After 175 years, The Examiner in Launceston is still providing staff with the opportunity to innovate and prove that the future of print media is still bright.
On Sunday, March 12, Northwest Tasmania’s flagship newspaper celebrated 175 years, kicking off a week of celebrations, a public event and a special edition. Readers have been voting on their favourite articles to appear in the special edition to showcase the quality journalism created throughout the paper’s long history.
The milestone makes The Examiner Australia’s third oldest daily newspaper after The Sydney Morning Herald and the Geelong Advertiser. Starting as a bi-weekly paper, by 1852 The Examiner was being published three days per week.
The paper still maintains strong circulation figures for a local daily, with weekday figures at 18,100 and the Saturday paper at 22,800.
In the lead up to the celebration, Fairfax Tasmania managing editor Mark Baker asked his staff how they would sum up the paper in one word.
“Words like vital, essential, trust, truth all came through, but the one that came through a lot was community. I think a real sense of strength and a real sense of ownership of the community,” Mr Baker said.
The newspaper started on a Saturday afternoon in March 1842, created on the hand press that had been smuggled into Van Diemen’s Land as brewery machinery. This means-to-an-end was the start of a long history of innovation for the publication, from advances in printing technology through to digitalisation.
The publication was a leader in online adaption from 1996, launching a series of travel, news, automotive, and property sites for the region before theexaminer.com.au was launched in 1997. When the site was relaunched in 2000, it had a pay-per-article digital subscription service allowing access to all the articles available in print, a national first.
While the newsroom philosophy is based on innovation, there is also a long history of activism. More recently, the paper has campaigned for a for university campus in Launceston, a world-class sporting ground, and commissioned a series which raised issues in the northern Tasmanian economy.
Mr Baker believes innovation and activism has been the cornerstone to providing the region with quality local stories.
“What hasn’t changed is that philosophy of tell original, compelling, good, news stories focusing on what readers want to read.
“We are aware that doesn’t mean hyper-local stories. Local news we see as news locals would be interested in. That could be national news or international news … it’s just trying to find a connection to your readers,” he said.
In the past 15 years, The Examiner has won a series of awards, recognised on a national and international level. In 2004, the newspaper won a PANPA award for its website (with daily circulation under 50,000). The award was followed in 2012, with The Examiner awarded the PANPA Newspaper of the Year in the 25,000-90,000 circulation category.
In the same year, the smartphone app won the paper an International News Media Marketing Award.
On whether The Examiner will make it to 200 years, Mr Baker said: “I hope so. It will be a big celebration when we do.
“The Examiner is travelling really strongly, it is reaching more people than ever thanks to that digital expansion. We still feel we are vital and relevant. Yes, we have gone through some big changes but we are because we want to be here, and our readers want us here, so I am confident we will be here for 200,” Mr Baker said.