When independent local news publisher, The New England Times ran a series of stories on a local high school in their readership’s regional area, it hit the headlines and made it into national news. The stories followed a volcanic narrative that erupted in September but the locals had been living with it from much earlier, and The NE Times was there investigating and reporting on it, with a far-reaching impact.
The New England Times is an independent regional news outlet covering the New England Region, based in Armidale, NSW. Its complimentary masthead, The Net is a community noticeboard and opinion site, due for a relaunch in 2023.
Publisher, broadcaster and journalist, Raphaella Kathryn Crosby (RK Crosby) heads the team at The NE Times and joined LINA in 2022, the same year the publication launched and was one of LINA’s first 30 members.
The motivation behind creating NE Times and The Net was originally driven by research done in 2021 by Raphaella’s company, KORE Communication who found that New Englanders were most frustrated by the lack of local news over any other issue. As a New England local, Raphaella’s insights also revealed that localities such as Uralla, Walcha, and Guyra had no access to quality online local news.
Not only that, existing local publications were heavily paywalled, and in terms of other local news sources, Armidale’s three local print papers had folded years ago. Clearly, a gap existed that needed filling and Raphaella’s new publication’s team got to work…
The ‘Super-school’ Story That Made Headlines
Fast forward a year to early September 2023, Armidale, NSW: Many will remember – especially those living in the New England region – the awful story that unfolded when Armidale’s two high schools amalgamated to become one ‘super-school’, Armidale Secondary College (ASC) and made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The NE Times actually had their radar on the situation earlier, publishing a story on the ASC on March 14, but it was in September that The NE Time’s investigative series – 16 stories deep! – started gaining wide attention, so much so that The Guardian picked it up. The ABC was also running a story on ASC.
The impact that The NE Times had in reporting this story is testament to the power of public interest journalism on the wider community. Local reporting is not only impactful on its immediate readership: It also has the ability to pique national interest which in turn shines a light back on to its source, helping to amplify a community’s need for a response, often involving government sectors.
Moving On, What’s The Motivation?
In late September, in the aftermath of what is still a burning local story even though the wind has died down in mainstream eyes, LINA asked Raphaella what motivates her and the team at The New England Times to keep producing public interest journalism. Her response was nothing less than upbeat and enthusiastic! We share here a recording of her conversation with LINA’s Member Engagement Coordinator, Emma Marshall who asked Raphaella some questions on the subject in this informal video chat:NET Interview