Leading regional newspaper publisher McPherson Media Group has purchased the Albury-Wodonga print site from Australian Community Media, in an overnight deal.
- McPherson Media Group has acquired Border Mail printing site from Australian Community Media
- The Border Mail and other titles will resume printing locally
- McPherson Media to shut down Shepparton press after printing in town for 143 years
It comes five months after ACM ceased printing operations at four of its news facilities and suspended a number of non-daily newspapers.
Regional titles will resume printing in Wodonga starting next month, and titles from MMG will also move to the site.
ACM chief executive Allen Williams called it a big achievement.
“This is an absolutely positive thing in the sense that we will continue to serve this market and therefore we can print locally,” said Williams.
“Independence is worth paying for”
In a bittersweet gesture, MMG will close its printing plant in Shepparton and print its 13 mastheads in Wodonga.
Earlier this year, the company was forced to lay off staff after advertising sales fell due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The change means 25 Shepparton employees have been laid off, but deployment options may be available if the positions are not filled by previous Wodonga staff.
MMG executive chairman Ross McPherson said the purchase was purely strategic and would only bring stability in the medium term.
âAll of the regional newspapers are still looking for a viable digital model that will allow them to continue publishing local news for their communities and the jury is still out on whether this can be achieved,â said McPherson.
“People don’t realize the value of things until they are lost.”
Printing will resume next month
The printing press will roar again from October 2 to resume printing of regional headlines The Border Mail, The Irrigator and Area News.
Headlines from McPherson Media – including Shepparton News, Corowa Free Press, Yarrawonga Chronicle, Benalla Ensign, The Pastoral Times, Cobram Courier, Kyabram Free Press and Riverine Herald – will also be transferred to the site from that date.
Mr Williams said the deal had been under discussion for some time.
“We will remain on site as a tenant of (MMG), and the entire editorial, commercial and administrative team will be based there,” he said.
“It gives us a bit of stability and it also gives MMG the ability to print for themselves.”
Bittersweet decision for MMG
McPherson Media has been printing from Shepparton since 1877 and has been at its Goulburn Valley Hwy site since 1988.
Some of the employees who were laid off at Shepparton have been working at the print site for 40 years.
Mr McPherson said it was a bittersweet decision.
“Everyone in the trade loves that sound deep in the bowels of the plant when the press starts up and accelerates to full speed, so it’s very sad.”