In the lower part of South Australia's Murray River basin, Murray Bridge News delivers stories to thousands of residents each day with a simple motto: Stories create community. To find out more about the site and the community it serves, Telum spoke to Managing Editor, Peri Strathearn.
Tell us a bit about Murray Bridge News.
Murray Bridge News is an independent, locally-owned website and email newsletter based in South Australia's Murraylands. Since its establishment in April 2020, it has grown to a circulation of almost 2000, including more than 500 paying subscribers.
Are there any regular features and sections in your publication that people should be aware of?
Murray Bridge News runs a "Things to Do" column every week, a rundown of upcoming events, as well as "Join In" and "Come and Try" features about local community groups and sporting clubs. We also run regular columns from contributors.
How is your editorial team structured?
It's just me! I call myself a Managing Editor, but I research and write all the stories, take photos and video, publish online, post on social media and via email, and respond to customer enquiries.
Tell us about the Murray Bridge region? What do people need to know about your community?
Murray Bridge has a population of almost 20,000 and serves as a regional centre for the Murraylands and Mallee. It's situated on the River Murray, as you might imagine, about an hour from Adelaide, the state capital.
What are the main industries in the region?
Agriculture is big in surrounding districts, and food processing businesses are major employers, but retail, healthcare, hospitality, and tourism are also important to this region.
What are the big issues that matter to your community?
There are significant socio-economic challenges in the community, including long-term unemployment, poverty, drug use, domestic violence, and a shortage of affordable housing. Development is also an issue of interest to local residents as Murray Bridge's population grows. Additionally, water and the River Murray are central to the region's identity.
Are there any particular town or district events and festivals people should be aware of?
Holidays such as Australia Day, Anzac Day, Christmas and New Year's Eve are widely celebrated. Three of Murray Bridge's biggest events typically fall on the same weekend: the Murray Bridge Show, Australian International Pedal Prix and the River Murray Football League Grand Final. Nearby, Tailem Bend hosts a Supercars race each year, and Murray Bridge Racing Club also draws a large crowd to its biggest race days, including the Magic Millions.
What is the Murray Bridge region most known for?
That depends on who you ask! Anyone who visited as a child would remember the animatronic bunyip on the riverfront. People elsewhere around Australia might say something disparaging about drugs or violence. But locals know the Murraylands as an easygoing, appealing place where you can enjoy an enviable lifestyle on the river without breaking the bank.
Most famous resident or ex-resident from the area?
I did a poll on this recently, and many people nominated AFL Footballer Chad Wingard. Legendary Actor, David Gulpilil also lives locally.
What are your top PR tips for story pitches?
Don't bother pitching to a local outlet unless you have a local hook! Particularly when it comes to outlets like mine, which cater to 20,000 people in a regional community, not a million in a big city. And accept that even if you find that hook, journalists at small, regional outlets are sometimes too busy with local stories to follow up with you anyway.
Answers submitted by Murray Bridge News Managing Editor, Peri Strathearn.