No lying down on the job: One year on and 1400 stories later

ABOVE: Taking photos at Australia Day in Evans Head this year. Photo: By an avid reader: ‘Nice shot by the bins, Susanna.’

Susanna Freymark

What a ride!

What a year: today marks one year of bringing you local news from Richmond Valley and Kyogle LGAs.

People tell me they miss the paper. I do too. Reading a newspaper is a different experience to online news.

But there are advantages and these were significant during the floods in February–March. As the flood disaster unfolded, I was able to update residents with evacuation orders, I could let them know what was happening upstream straight away.

I wrote more than 300 stories about the floods, and that writing continues today in advocating for those impacted by the floods – highlighting the need for housing, grants and flood recovery help from the government.

The 2019 fires in Rappville and other areas were devastating to cover. Taking photos of people standing next to the charred remains of their homes was heartbreaking.

The floods were on another scale of heartbreak. Such a wide area was covered. So many homes lost or damaged.

The cleanup in Woodburn after the floods. Photo: Susanna Freymark

When I finally made it through to Coraki as the floodwaters receded, I knew it was important to document the disaster.

For the first half hour though, I could only stare. The stench of the water, the height it had risen and the damage it left behind was at first incomprehensible. I held my camera and stared at the devastation. Finally, I knew I had to click, as difficult as it was, as sad as it was, this story had to be told.

Everywhere I went, people wanted to talk about what had happened to them – from those who were trapped on their roofs to people rescuing locals in tinnies.

My job as a reporter was to listen. My job was to tell their stories with sensitivity and respect.

Every day, we post stories to about this patch.

My drive for reporting has not changed since my days as editor of the Express Examiner, then as editor of 63 issues of the community owned Richmond River Independent.

The stories have not changed – whether in print or online. They remain local and I hope hugely relevant to you.

Online news makes the sharing of stories easier, too.

I take this moment – one year on – to reflect. There was no time between each of the papers and then the move to online to reflect. There is barely time now.

It remains a pleasure and an honour to write your stories.

I take a lot of photos of sunsets, cows, dogs and people. This sunset was at Woodburn.

Since launching, I have broadened my skills into learning how to design and maintain a website.

You’ll soon see an improved What’s On calendar, a farming page and more.

The site numbers tell another aspect of the story.

We have published more than 1400 stories in this first year.

In the first few weeks, there were 8000 readers. That jumped to 45,000 during the floods and sits at 30,000–35,000 regular readers.

Because we are online, your local news is in the palm of your hand on your mobile phone or in front of you on your desktop computer. Most days, around 75% of readers are looking at on their phones. The rest are split between tablets and desktop computers.

Advertisers keep us and the website running and keep the news free for everyone.

Enjoy reading local.

If you’re a reporter in Casino, at some point you’ll end up at the meatworks. This was during Beef Week.

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