Celebrating 200 issues by Madelaine Empson
Well, we can’t quite believe it, but this is our 200th issue! We’re so thrilled to be marking this milestone and wanted to take this opportunity to share more about how we got here.
Regional News started in 2015 with one goal in mind: to spread the word about what’s on, where to go, and what to do in wonderful Wellington. After we kept missing out on things we wanted to see because we heard about them after the fact, we decided to plug the gap in the market for a free, dedicated arts and entertainment publication.
Back then, we were a small team of just six. There was one desktop designer with his son helping out, one sales manager with her daughter on coffee duty, one senior journalist who wrote the whole thing, and one accounts manager who kept the money in cheque. Speaking of, cheques were still a thing! A lot has changed since we released our first issue on the 27th of January 2015…
That paper was 20 pages, and we didn’t have a physical premises yet. Eight-and-a-half years on and Regional News has doubled in size at a healthy 40 pages regularly, and we’ve moved twice to accommodate our growing staff. Four of the six original team members are still here, including our accounts manager and me. I started off as Girl Friday, filing and keeping the stationery cabinets well stocked while I studied theatre and English at Victoria University of Wellington – Te Herenga Waka. Upon completing my degree, I started writing about theatre for the paper as a junior journalist. Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect I’d become the editor, with a host of talented contributing writers and an amazing full-time journalist on my team. Our first desktop assistant is now the world’s most efficient desktop design manager, training a young designer just as he was mentored in the beginning. We have three steadfast sales representatives who’ve been here more than six years. All the while, our sales manager has kept the ball rolling, inspiring us all since day dot.
Our work culture helped us survive COVID, as we rallied together to pull through. I have to say, writing an events newspaper without any events was a challenge! But we’re like family here – and not just the ones of us who are bound by blood. We support and value each other and our work. In fact, right this minute, the daily motto up on the whiteboard reads, ‘All for one and one for all’.
In 2015, the print industry was already doing it tough. Starting a newspaper then was a gamble, and it hasn’t always been easy. Alongside a global pandemic, we’ve faced myriad print and distribution price increases over the years, but we haven’t passed these costs onto our clients. We don’t want to hike our prices and we don’t want to save money by going digital, because, to put it simply, we believe in the power of print.
We reckon we all get enough screen time these days. Scrolling certainly has its place, but is there anything quite as good as reading a paper with your morning coffee? Instead of trolling for events on the internet, we wanted to create one definitive source of arts and cultural news in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. We wanted to work alongside our arts community and give them a place to share their work when those platforms were and are in scarce supply. We wanted to support our local businesses and champion the movers and shakers of Wellington. And we wanted it all to land right in your letterbox.
Reaching 200 issues makes us feel like we’ve succeeded in our mission, as does the overwhelmingly positive response we receive from our community. The fact that we’re still here is testament to how much people still value print media. So, to our creatives, our entrepreneurs, and to our readers – thank you!